Trans Liberation in Tamil Nadu
Why it is no surprise that India’s first transgender news anchor works for a Tamil Nadu TV channel

Tamil Nadu is known to be a pioneer in advocating the rights of transgenders. This culture of acceptance includes a state-level welfare board for them and the incorporation of the third gender in its electoral rolls. Padmini Prakash, who became India’s first transgender news anchor, is the latest example of the state’s gender revolution. A 31-year-old Bharatanatyam dancer, she first appeared on Coimbatore-basedLotus News at 7 pm on Independence Day.“This is like a dream come true. I thoroughly enjoy this job. I am well accepted by my colleagues and nobody shows any kind of discrimination,” she says. “I was very worried in the beginning because this is not something that I had been familiar with. I am very careful not to make mistakes.”

Prakash left home 10 years ago while pursuing her first year BCom and travelled across Tamil Nadu to meet like-minded and like-bodied people, turning into an activist for transgenders. “I know that I have to be very objective on my job despite being an activist,” she says. Her induction was a well-thought decision by the channel. “Transgenders… are not given decent jobs and are forced to go for menial occupations and even illegal activities. To show our regard for them, we decided to incorporate transgenders in our channel,” says Dr GKS Selvakumar, chairman of Lotus News.

Padmini was suggested by Rose Venkatesan, a popular transgender figure in the state. “I had no doubt about Padmini’s skills.She is diligent and has good screen presence,” says Venkatesan, who is a communication trainer with Wipro. Venkatesan used to do a very popular show on Vijay TV, which was on air for a year. “I don’t know why they wound it up.Probably because I used to ridicule and criticise exorcisms, blind religious practices and superstitions.” She then turned to movies— acting in a few films and even directing one. “Tamil media is a bit more tolerant of transgenders,” she says.