As the distribution of degrees almost came to a closure, Sudha Seshayyan, Vice-Chancellor of the university, announced, to the applause of those gathered at the Centenary Auditorium, University of Madras, that as special recognition, Ms. Rashika would receive the degree from the Governor.
Dr. Sudha Seshayyan told that this was certainly the first time a transperson received the degree at the convocation of the university.
Ms. Rashika Raj, born as Raj Kumar in Walajabad in Kancheepuram district, studied nursing at Padmasree College of Nursing there. “My family has still not accepted me. My father, who is a retired Sub-Inspector of Police, finds it difficult to understand,” said Ms. Rashika Raj.
Fearing rejection, she enrolled to the nursing course as a male candidate. “I changed my name and gender after joining the course. The college administration and students were quite supportive,” she said.
Her dream of serving as a nurse, however, is yet to materialise, as her application was rejected by the Tamil Nadu Nurses and Midwives Council (TNNMC), the statutory body for registering nurses in the State, because of her gender.
Citing a judgement by the Supreme Court in 2014, she said all applications must have a “third gender” option. “However, the TNNMC authorities say they can register only men and women. They also discouraged me by saying that I would not be able to serve anywhere as a nurse,” she said.