Grace and Tarika are no different from lakhs of mothers and daughters across the country right now. They are both celebrating Tarika’s good performance in her 12th Board exams (HSC exams) and contemplating the path she ought to be choosing to chart her future.
They are also jubilant that Tarika has made history as the first registered transgender to clear Class XII examinations in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Image for representation. Photo source: Wikimedia
Tarika, who is 22 years of age, had run away from her birth parents and her home in Thoothukudi district at 16 when she realised that she wasn’t accepted for who she was. Even though her sex at birth had been male, she had been uncomfortable being a boy when she wanted to dress up like a girl and be one as well.
Unable to be her true self, she ran away to Chennai. As her good fortune would have it, she was found and adopted by transgender activist Grace Banu, who was determined to give her the best possible life.
And that meant getting Tarika enrolled back in school.
Grace also helped Tarika change her name, got her official identification and arranged for a sex reassignment surgery. At 22, Tarika has scored 537 marks and hopes to become a doctor. She spoke to Times of India about her experience in school noting, “People at school treated me well and included me as one of their own.The faculty has been warm to me; particularly Selvam, my class teacher who always motivated me to perform well.”
Grace, who has long championed the rights for members of the transgender community, has also taken in three others (Ajitha, Regina and Renuka) in her home. As as the 29-year-old Grace helps Tarika plot her future, she is also celebrating her own accomplishments – she has recently completed her engineering course.