TN Transwoman Embraces Her Identity, Gets Job Back

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Chennai: In a path-breaking move, J Dhakshayani, a 30-year-old transwoman, has been reinstated as secretary of Koduveli panchayat at Ellapuram block of Tiruvallur district seven years after she left her job and home over the fear of rejection by family.

Dhakshayani was born at Annambedu village in Poonamallee and lived as a man. After her father abandoned the family, her mother raised her and her brother by working as a construction labourer. As she wanted to start working early to support her mother, she joined as panchayat secretary of Annambedu at 19.

She enrolled for a BA History course at Annamalai University through distance education but couldn’t complete it. After she was transferred to the Koduveli panchayat office in 2015, she decided to leave her home as she wanted to embrace her real self and found it difficult to pretend as a man. 

“I felt different when I was 16 but I couldn’t express it as I feared that my family may not accept it. So, I left my home and stayed with members of my community in various parts of the State,” she said. She underwent gender-affirmation surgery in 2017 at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital. She travelled to various places including Nepal. When she came to Chennai in December 2019, a family friend saw her.

He said that her family has been searching for her and made her talk to her mother over the phone. To her surprise, her mother and brother were happy to talk to her and asked her to come back home. Dhakshayani wanted to work and help her family financially, but several private companies refused to give her a job due to her identity. “I decided to approach the government to get my old job back by writing a petition detailing why I had to leave”, she said.

Apart from giving a petition to the CM’s special cell in 2021, we also met Minister for Milk and Dairy Development SM Naser who assured of help.

Tiruvallur Collector Alby John said that they decided to give her the job back taking a gender-sensitive and compassionate view. “We thought she had a valid reason to discontinue her job and decided to reinstate her. Koduveli panchayat president appreciated. A job fair for transgenders will also be considered,” he said.

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