Rakshika Raj became the first transwoman to graduate as a nurse from Tamil Nadu’s Padmashri College of Nursing. She received a B.Sc in Nursing from Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
She was born in Wallajahbad in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district and was named Raj Kumar upon birth. She enrolled at the college as a male candidate since the state medical university did not have provision for admitting transgender persons. She then changed all her documents, including her education certificates, upon joining the course.
Though her fight to exist as an equal is far from over as she is yet to be accepted by her family. She told Deccan Chronicle,
“When I confessed this to my parents, they treated it as a mental disorder. I then undertook a hormonal assay which showed my testosterone levels to be below average than that of a male.”
Her application to serve as a nurse was rejected by Tamil Nadu Nurses and Midwives Council, which only allows nurses to register as either male or female. She added,
“What is the use of receiving a degree when one can’t find a job? The Tamil Nadu Nurses and Midwives Council (TNNMC) does not have a separate box for transgenders. When I approached the council’s registrar regarding the matter, they asked me to tick the female box.”
This comes despite the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment which ruled that transgender persons are eligible for all rights just like every other citizen of the country. The judgment also directed states to enforce institutions to have ‘other’ as an option in employment and education applications.