Published: 15th October 2017
Dhanam is MSU's first transgender student under their 'free edu' scheme. How she went from dancing on stage to rejoining college will move you
The Tirunelveli-based university is hopeful that after this, more transgenders will come forward to take up their offer of joining their colleges at no cost at all
Clad in a blue salwar just like the other girls at MSU is Esakki Muthu or Dhanam, as she likes to be called these days. She has her place in history as the very first transgender to be admitted free at the varsity — a scholarship scheme designed to make the varsity more inclusive for transgenders. This is a far cry from a year ago when she was performing on stage with a group of transgenders in Kanyakumari, after having dropped out of the very same university because of the changes in her body that were driving her crazy.
With a father who was just short of being infirm and a mother who rolled beedis to eke out a living, Esakki's life was complicated than most. Born as a male, he felt that something was amiss when he was in Class 6. "When I was in Class 10 my teacher spotted the difference in me and informed my mother about this. My mother watched me closely and asked me to behave like the other boys. But I just could not," he shared.
After he successfully passed out of school in 2015, Esakki secured admission at the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University to pursue his BBA in Govindaperi. It was during this period that things came to a head. "I completed my first year and decided to leave home. I went to Kanniyakumari and started living with other transgenders. While I was with them I started to perform on stage. The dance shows helped me earn my living," Esakki smiled. In February 2017, Esakki underwent a sex change surgery at a private hospital in Nagercoil. "My parents were initially scared and opposed the surgery but after that, they accepted me and took me home," he explained.
Stroke of luck
Just a few months ago, when she participated in a function held for transgenders by actor Raghava Lawrence in Tirunelveli, she got to know that Manonmainam Sundaranar University and its Vice-Chancellor had offered free education for transgenders to improve their standard of living. That's when she decided to take the plunge.
Today, she is a student continuing her BBA (second year) in the same university she discontinued her studies from, a few years ago. "I produced my medical certificate and was admitted to the college. Now, I want to only concentrate on my studies," she said.
Growing up, things weren't always easy, she recalled, "My father suffered a stroke and could not work. My mother was the breadwinner of the family. She earned a little money by rolling beedis." But all of that hasn't stopped her from having big dreams. Especially after somebody like Prithika Yashini, India's first transgender cop, has made it to the mainstream. "I aspire to become a police officer or work in any other government service, maybe even as a Village Administrative Officer. I want to serve society," she affirmed.
Change works both ways
Stating that free education to transgender was approved by the university syndicate, Vice Chancellor K Baskar said, "Free education for transgenders would make a change in the society. Though we had allotted an extra seat in every course in the university departments, constituent and affiliated colleges, for the 800 seats that are available for transgenders. We received only one application from a transgender at MSU in Govindaperi. We did have two other transgenders come forward to study post graduation in the university but they did not turn up."
A transgender student is also provided with a scholarship of Rs 3,000 every month. "We would stop the scholarship if the transgenders have arrears. After clearing all the papers the scholarship would be continued," the VC shared.
This story was originally published at www.newindianexpress.com