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A few years ago, Sruthy Sithara’s life was starkly different from what it is today. The 28-year-old from Kerala has become the toast of the town after scripting history; she is the first Indian to win Miss Trans Global 2021. But she doesn’t just consider this her personal victory; for Sithara, this crown serves as a powerful reminder of how the trans community is on an equal footing, and has the calibre to excel.
Since the beauty pageant was held virtually, there were several rounds that Sithara had to be a part of, before being declared the winner. The preparation was rather rigorous and went on for as long as six months, but as they say, all’s well that ends well. She made the country proud by winning the international beauty pageant for trans women that saw contestants from 16 countries, such as Australia, the Philippines, the UK, Indonesia, and Japan among others.
HealthShots caught up with Sithara post this historic win to know more about her journey, the struggles she has faced as a trans woman, and what the future holds for her.
“This beauty pageant is a step forward for the trans community,” says Sithara
Born in the quaint town of Vaikom in Kerala, Sithara lived a humble life. Early on, she started to feel like a girl, and it left her rather confused. She experienced gender dysphoria but suffered in silence for a long time.
“My brother and other male friends would ask me to participate in games that are considered masculine, but I was never interested. This carried on for a while, and I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. It was only during my college years in Kochi that I interacted with transgender persons. That’s when I understood that I am one of them, and came out as Sruthy Sithara,” she says.
While growing up, she would emulate beauty queens Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and always wanted to be like them. Her long-cherished dream finally came true after winning this crown, but Sithara feels it has an even bigger significance for her.
“Life has really changed after the crown — not just my life, but also the perception about the transgender community,” she shares.
Although India has The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, its implementation is far from satisfactory. As per the Census 2011, India has nearly 500,000 transgender persons, and they are under the perpetual fear of being killed, harassed, or sexually assaulted.
Popular radio jockey and anchor Anannyah Kumari Alex, who allegedly died by suicide a few months ago, was Sithara’s friend. Her death left a deep impact on the beauty pageant winner. It is believed that Alex was heavily troubled by a botched gender confirmation surgery.
This wasn’t just an incident for Sithara; she is someone who walks the talk, and has always been at the forefront of the upliftment of the trans community. In fact, she was among the first four transgenders who were appointed for a government job by the Kerala government.
“I worked as a project assistant at the Transgender Cell, Social Justice Department. Like other members of the trans community, there were several challenges I have gone through, especially in my early years. But I have had the support of my family, particularly my father. He is my backbone,” she adds.
Sithara believes that education is an important tool to change the perception of the trans community. There are several misconceptions that exist in society and those need to be done away with, she feels.
“People think that transgenders are sex workers, beggars, and criminals. The fact is that there are trans persons in IT, films, and the makeup industry, and we need to accept this. We are just like anyone else,” says Sithara.
The future looks bright for Sithara, and she wants to utilize every opportunity to create awareness. Furthermore, she asserts that discrimination against the trans community must end.
“Some people also body shame trans women. There are bodily changes that occur as a consequence of hormone therapy, but people mock us. People point out these things in the public too, and it only perpetuates toxicity,” she concludes.