India Just Marked a Major LGBT Milestone

India Just Marked a Major LGBT Milestone

Padmini Prakash is making history. 

Prakash, a 31-year-old transgender woman in Coimbatore, India, has become that country's first transgender television news anchor, the Times of India reports. Prakash works for the Lotus News Channel in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. 

The appointment comes just months after India's Supreme Court decided to recognize transgender individuals as a third gender, Reuters reports. The Supreme Court called on the government to ensure their equal treatment following the decision. 

According to the Independent, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh have also legally recognized the transgender community, and the Gender Recognition Act 2004 granted full legal recognition to transgender people in the U.K. and the British system.

Here's an Aug. 15 Lotus News broadcast of Prakash in action:



"We are supportive of Padmini because she is very hardworking," Lotus News chairman GKS Selvakumar told the Times of India. "After initial trials, we were convinced that she had the potential to be an excellent news anchor." 

As activists continue to advocate for the equal rights and treatment of transgender people around the world, transgender celebrities — like Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox in the United States — have become the face of an often-misunderstood identity. News anchors, in their unique status as regular fixtures of our television viewing habits (for those who still watch cable news, at least), are an essential component in raising awareness.

Michelle Demishevich, a prominent LGBT rights activist, became Turkey's first transgender TV reporter in July. Time reports that, "while Turkey’s gay and transgender communities enjoy better rights than their counterparts in most Muslim countries, her achievement is rather unique", she's used her position to raise awareness to violence against the transgender community. 

"Even in death we are pushed to the margins of society," she told the AFP.


Image Credit: AFP

Colorado Public Radio's Eden Lane has been out as transgender since 2012. 

"I've been told that, for mainstream television, I'm the only broadcast journalist that is known to be transgender," she said in an interview on SiriusXM OutQ in 2012. "I transitioned, in the way that your radio listeners will understand, almost a decade ago. I became a married, suburban housewife and mom and never really intended to step in the spotlight. If I had known that nobody else was identified as transgender as a news journalist on television, I probably wouldn't have done it. I probably would have been too afraid."

For many, the fear remains. Being openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is illegal in almost 80 countries and punishable by death in at least five of them. This means more than 2.6 billion people live in countries where being gay is illegal. Whether they like it or not, Prakash, Demishevich and Lane are on the front lines of the ongoing battle for transgender equality. 

Editors Note: Mar. 3, 2015 

An earlier version of this article failed to cite a passage from Time in accordance with Mic editorial standards. The article has been updated to properly attribute the language to Time.