Transgender loses dream police job by 1 sec in 100m qualifier

CHENNAI: Twenty-four-year-old transgender K Prithika Yashini’s dream of joining the police force was shattered by one solitary second — that’s how much she was behind the stipulated qualifying time in a 100-metre sprint — during physical tests at Jawarharlal Nehru stadium on Wednesday.

Prithika, who battled in the Madras high court to be allowed to participate in selections for the post of sub-inspector, had cleared the first round of the physical tests, finishing the 400m race in 1.50m, well within the 2.50m target, on Tuesday.

After she cleared the throw ball and long jump tests on Wednesday, she had to run 100m in 17 seconds.

All eyes were on Prithika because, if she cleared the test, she would be the first transgender to qualify as a police officer in the country. With four of her transgender friends hollering her name, she got off to a good start. Midway through the sprint a knee injury she sustained earlier in the week acted up, hobbling her, but she completed the race despite the discomfort.

When Prithika crossed the finish line and checked her timing, the realisation swiftly sank in that she had fallen just short after taking on and winning every challenge.

Prithika was speechless, controlling her emotions till she left the track. Then she collapsed in a heap and broke down, sobbing as if wracked by pain in the knowledge that all her efforts had come to nothing.

“I’ve been dreaming about becoming a police officer for more than five years. I hoped to make the transgender community proud,” she said, when she calmed down. “It is unfair of the police department to reject transgenders because it does not have a separate category for them.”

The police department had rejected Prithika’s application to appear for the selection tests on the grounds that her education certificates had her male birth name. She sorted that out by changing her name and took the written examination in May.

But police officers did not allow Prithika to take part in the physical tests as a woman applicant, stating that they did not have a transgender category, forcing her to move the high court. Friends in the transgender community helped her fight the case and the court permitted her to take part in the physical tests for women applicants.

Reluctant to approach a coach to train her, Prithika had practised on her own in a ground in Sriperumbudur. She trained hard every day and would have made it if not for the niggling knee injury, she said.

Her transgender friends plan to approach the court to ask that police create a new category for the transgender community but, for Prithika, the focus will now be on going back to training to give her dream another shot.

As a group of young sportswomen congratulated her on her efforts, bringing a smile to her face, she left the stadium vowing that she would make it the next time around.


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