The Tiruvallur District Collector, on March 25, tweeted that he had issued an appointment order to a 30-year-old transwoman named J Dhakshayani, which got the attention of many and praise was heaped towards the collector for his noble act.
Born at Annambedu village of Poonamallee near Chennai, Santhanaraj began working early at the age of 19 as his father abandoned his family, a mother and a brother. Santhanaraj, meanwhile, enrolled for a BA History course at Annamalai University through distance education, but could not complete it. It was in 2015, when Santhanaraj was transferred to Koduveli panchayat, Raj decided to leave home as he felt physical and mental changes. Turning from Santhanaraj to Dhakshayani, she wanted to embrace her reality.
Over fear of rejection, Dhakshayani absconded from the job and left home to stay with members of her community and travelled to various parts of the State and even to places like Nepal. In 2017, Dhakshayani underwent gender-affirmation surgery in Chennai and travelled to Nepal and other places. Through a family friend, Dhakshayani returned to Chennai in December 2019.
Meanwhile, her mother Kuppu, who was searching for her ‘son’ for almost 5 years, finally found her as ‘Dhakshayani’.
“When I was made to talk to my mother over the phone, to my surprise, my mother seemed very supportive and said ‘Whatever it is, come home’,” Dhakshayani said. After coming back home in 2020, when private companies refused to give Dhakshayani a job, she decided to approach the state government and wrote a petition to the Chief Minister’s Special Cell in 2021 stating that if there’s a possibility of giving her the same job that she was doing before 7 years. In it, she detailed why she had to leave the job. After approvals, the district collector has given her the main responsibility in the Koduveli panchayat.
Tiruvallur District Collector Alby John tweeted that ‘Dhakshayani has been re-employed out of compassion and considering the gender-sensitive sentiments of the matter, noting that iconic matters are of paramount importance’.
Dhakshayani said that she knew at the age of 17 that she was not a male by heart and emotions and that she joined the work here after finishing class 12 but was unable to bear the changes physically and mentally and thus left home. She also requested the government to take steps to ensure trans people with appropriate employment live a dignified life among people.
People from various quarters have been expressing their appreciation to the district collector who made the timely decision considering the position of a transwoman in society.