M. Vandhana

The Hindu
S. Swapna,( centre) a transgender, appearing for TNPSC Group-II Services examination in Madurai on Sunday. Photo:S. James

It was a moment of victory for 23-year-old transgender Swapna, when she appeared for the group II examination conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) on Sunday. And not just for Swapna, it was a win for the entire transgender community. Swapna is the first transgender to appear for a civil services examination.

“We don’t want to be distinguished as a third gender,” says Swapna

A civil service aspirant since school days, this 23-year-old is perhaps the first transgender who was given the liberty of choosing a gender while applying to the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC). S. Swapna fought several odds to write the Group-II Services examination under the category of ‘women’ in Madurai on Sunday.

The transgender, who secured 75 per cent in B.A. (Tamil) through distance education programme, said she had applied for the TNPSC examination soon after the publication of the notification, but did not get the hall-ticket. Thanks to the intervention of the Madras High Court, Swapna received the hall-ticket on November 27, barely four days before the examination. “I have not performed well in a few papers as I had very little time to prepare. But, I am happy to have been officially recognised as a woman,” she said after writing the competitive exam at Nirmala Girls Higher Secondary School centre in Madurai.

Plea to court

Swapna and three other transgenders have also pleaded with the court to direct the government to provide three per cent reservation for transgenders in education and employment. The court directed the government to file its reply to the petition on December 18.

“We don’t want to be distinguished as a third gender. What we really want is to integrate with the society and given an opportunity to improve our economic and educational standards,” Swapna told The Hindu.

She was hopeful that there would be a positive outcome to her case in the High Court.

“I also believe that transgenders, who wish to write competitive exams in future, would not face any hardships,” she said.

When asked whether Swapna was the first transgender to have written the TNPSC examinations, R. Nataraj, former chairman of the TNPSC, said, “This candidate might have been the first to have declared the identity of gender at the time of applying. Any person who fulfils age and education requirements mandated in the TNPSC service rules can write the examination.”

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