A physics graduate, an insurance agent-cum-law student and finally a full fledged lawyer, this is the journey of Kerala’s first transgender advocate who now aims to use her legal acumen to ensure justice for the poor and marginalised. The journey was not easy and there were obstacles, but her positive attitude and disregard for negativity propelled her forward to achieve the goal of becoming a lawyer — a noble profession according to Padma Lakshmi, Kerala’s first transgender advocate.
”I ignore all forms of negativity, be it people or their comments. I focus on the positive. I believe that is one of my advantages. ”If I focus on the negativity, I will have time only for that and will never move forward in life,” she told PTI.
She also worked as an insurance agent for a private insurance company and LIC to meet her medical and education costs, which included the voluminous legal textbooks. However, she is also more than happy and eager to share these books and her knowledge with anyone who wants them. She slowly stopped working as an insurance agent after joining as a trainee with her senior — advocate K V Bhadrakumari — so that she could focus better on her legal career, Lakshmi said.
Lakshmi, who was interning with advocate Bhadrakumari since last November, said that her senior helped create a space for her among the big-wigs of the legal profession in the Kerala High Court. ”I am very grateful to her for that,” she said and added that her senior always tells her that the Constitution is our biggest weapon. Of the over 1,500 law graduates who got enrolled on Sunday, March 19, Lakshmi was the first one to get her enrollment certificate.
”It was made possible by the members of the Kerala Bar Council. I am happy to be enrolled here as many big-wigs of the legal profession are part of this council and now so am I,” she said.
On her plans for the future, she said that she neither intends to pursue masters in law nor try for the judicial service presently.
”Taking up cases where there has been violation of fundamental rights and fighting to ensure justice for the marginalised, that is my plan and that is my desire right now,” she said.
There are many like Vishwanathan from Wayanad or Madhu from Palakkad and I would like to fight for them, she said. Vishwanathan (46), a tribal, allegedly hung himself outside the Kozhikode medical college hospital, on February 11, where his wife was admitted for delivery. He took the extreme step after he was accused of theft and roughed up by some persons, his relatives alleged in their complaint to police.
Similar was the case of Madhu, another tribal man, who was beaten to death in 2018 by some persons for allegedly stealing food articles. Moreover, as a budding lawyer there is a lot for her to learn about court proceedings and she intends to imbibe all that knowledge, work hard and thereafter, fight to ensure justice for those who are poor and voiceless, she said. ”I have a lot to learn about managing clients and about the law. I have a lot of responsibilities. Also, I need to prove myself through my actions. For that hardwork and honesty are the tools that I need to hone.”
Her family — a mother who is an advocate’s clerk and a father who used to work at Cochin Shipyard Ltd — has been a great source of support in her journey. ”They always encouraged me to pursue my dreams with courage. So why should I fear anything?” she asked.
Meanwhile, state Law Minister P Rajeev and Higher Education Minister R Bindu congratulated Lakshmi on social media for her achievement. ”Congratulations to Padma Lakshmi who overcame all the difficulties in her life and enrolled as the first transgender lawyer in Kerala. May advocate Padma Lakshmi’s life inspire more people from the transgender community to enter the legal profession,” Rajeev said in a Facebook post. Bindu took to Twitter to convey her best wishes to the budding lawyer. ”It is a matter of immense pride that Padma Lakshmi’s name will now be etched into the history of Kerala, as the state’s first transgender lawyer.
”No doubt she has faced obstacles galore in this journey. But she persevered, never letting any naysayer deter or weigh her down,” she tweeted. She too expressed hope that Padma Lakshmi’s success would inspire many more trans persons in the state to enter the legal profession. While Padma Lakshmi is the first transgender lawyer from Kerala, the first trans advocate in the country was Satyashri Sharmila from Tamil Nadu who got enrolled in 2018.