Like other members of this sexual minority, Padmini Prakash too faced her share of social stigma and discrimination which made her abandon her family and education. But her difficulties only helped her grow stronger as she became the first transgender TV news anchor in the country five months after the Supreme Court legally declared this community as a third gender.
On the occasion of its 68th Independence Day, India freed itself from another kind of gender bias when Padmini Prakash became the first transgender television news anchor in the country. The news came as a happy event that marked the success of this community five months after the court ruled that the transgender be recognised as a legal third gender.
The 31-year-old news anchor recently started working at Coimbatore-based Lotus News Channel and within a month became the face of its 7 pm special daily bulletin due to her immense popularity.
Having worked as a dancer and acted in various Tamil soap operas before joining this news channel, Padmini says she now feels liberated from the burden of social stigma that she carried all her life. Like other people belonging to sexual minorities, Padmini too faced constant pressure, discrimination and harassment in the past.
She separated from her family and dropped out of college when she was a first year B.com degree student, as she could not take the stigma and pressure any longer. Being an outspoken person and always voicing her opinions as a social activist for transgender rights, it became even more difficult for her to live a peaceful life.
Her desire to do something different took her to many places and she traveled even beyond Tamil Nadu before she returned to become a Bharatnatyam dance trainer in the state.
Her first encounter with the newsroom wasn’t an easy one as she found it intimidating to take up such a high-profile role.
“I was very worried because I also had to focus on my diction and maintain a steady narrative pace to ensure that there was clarity and viewers could understand me,” Prakash told the Times of India.
But her hard work paid off and she got high praise from her employers, friends, members of transgender community and other media personalities, which was a great boost to her new start.
Always full of life, Prakash has participated in various beauty contests and won many prizes. She is now happily settled in her life with her partner in the suburbs of Coimbatore.
In April this year, the Supreme Court of India gave its landmark judgment of declaring transgender as a legal third gender enabling them to get equal treatment in the society. This judgement opened various gates for this sexual minority and Prakash is an example of one who dared to convert this into a great opportunity. This new rule is a ray of hope for the many transgender in the country who face discrimination and abuse on an everyday basis.
A large number of transgender came forward and declared their identity after the rule was passed. As per a count in May 2014, the number stood at 4.9 lakhs. Though the community claims to have a higher number than this, they are happy that so many people have officially accepted their identities. Apart from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan have also legally recognized the transgender.
With Padmini’s recent success, we hope to see many more people from this community coming forward and realising their dreams.