Meet Parvathy, the first trans postwoman in the country from Kollam

Parvathy is also the first transwoman to be listed in the voter's list at Kollam : Aravind Bala/Manorama

The gender description of ‘male’ never fitted Kumareshan’s name on the bio-data. Even while identifying as a woman within, Kumareshan had to live as a man. Finally, Kumareshan ‘transformed’ into Parvathy after breaking all the chains to become the first transgender postwoman in the country.

Thick forests, flooded chappath bridges, elephant corridors… Even as she passed through more than 12 km of forest paths, where light hardly enters, Kumareshan, now Parvathy, was not afraid; for her journey to become ‘herself’ was longer and harder. 

The time it took for Kumareshan to transform into ‘Parvathy’ at a post office in the middle of the forest was also dark. Today, she is at Kollam Rosemala near Sentharuni wildlife sanctuary; with the pride of being the first transgender postwoman in India.

The first transgender post woman
Kollam T S Kumareshan (36) joined work as a post man in 2012. After a long fight to continue living as a woman in line with her inner identity, the Indian Postal Department stood by her to change the name and gender on her service records last November. 

Now, she works as Parvathy, an assistant branch postmaster, at Rosemala Post Office.

Parvathy’s journey
Rosemala Post office is situated in an area surrounded by thick forest. Looking from the peak, the village looks like rose petals in the middle of the forest. Hence the name Rosemala. Parvathy commutes about 35 km every day from her house in Urukunnu to reach Rosemala. The 12 km journey off the Kollam Thirumangalam National Highway, from Aryankavu RO junction, is through the thick forest. Crossing the teak and rubber plantations, the road reaches a protected forest area in the Sentharuni Wildlife Sanctuary.

Parvathy’s work involves taking the mail from the Rajakuppu area to Rosemala and back.

During the journey through the forests, she passes through flooded chappath bridges across the roads, slippery slopes and elephant corridors. There were days when she had to run back to safety on seeing wild animals. But she has come across worse miseries in the journey of life.

Walk over the ‘burning embers’
Parvathy is a native of Kollam Urukunnu Malavedar Colony. Born to N Thankappan and V Sumathi of Sreesailam house, Parvathy, in her childhood, loved dressing up wearing bindi, grooming her eyebrows and playing Kothankallu (a traditional game children play) with girls. She then had crush on boys who studied with her.

Though she identified with the feminine within, Kumareshan did not disclose it to anyone due to her inferiority complex. Later, after school education and ITI studies, she left home and her hometown, sad over the severe insults she faced from all quarters.

After reaching the border town of Thenkasi in Tamil Nadu, she pierced her nose and ears and started living with a group of transgenders there. Even as she continued with dance programmes and such in Tamil Nadu, Kumareshan started exploring better opportunities and returned to Kerala.  

The path of survival
Kumareshan’s parents accepted their son who returned home after many years. Though they could
not accept Kumareshan as a ‘daughter’, they did not ostracise him. Kumareshan tried hard for a job to be independent but in vain. Even as she continued the struggle to make ends meet working at a petrol pump nearby, Kumareshan fell in love with a man who accepted her as a woman. However, that relationship did not last. The break-up shattered her and pushed Kumareshan into depression. She attempted suicide and was hospitalised.

It was there that Kumareshan realised, and decided with grit to continue her fight to live in her inherent identity.

Dream job
Getting a job with the postal department was a turning point for Kumareshan who had always dreamt of a Central Government job.  

Initially, many of the villagers could not accept the ‘postman’ who came dressed as a woman. Gradually, they all came around.

Whatsoever happened, Kumareshan decided not to let go of her likes and identity. She reached the office wearing a saree, bindi and kajal. She changed her name and gender in all official records including her Aadhaar and Voter's identity card.

Parvathy is the first transwoman to be listed in the voter's list at Kollam.

Her pain was that she was not being accepted in her identity at her workplace. Despite being a woman within and walking around in woman’s dresses, she was sad about being labelled a ‘postman’, a male designation.

Finally, she got the response to her requests. On November 9, Parvathy received the historical order which addressed her as ‘Parvathy’ and her gender was marked as transgender.

This order from the Postal Department reflects her long wait, tears, dreams and joy of being in line with her inner identity.

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