Gopi Shankar Madurai, the South Regional Representative of the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP), a statutory authority under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has taken suo motu cognisance of a “discriminatory and inter-phobic” Tamil magazine article against Santhi Soundarajan, a recipient of several medals at various international sporting events, who is currently serving as a coach in the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDATN).
The NCTP sought an on-record complaint from Santhi Soundarajan. She emailed the complaint against the Tamil magazine and athletics coach Rajan Abraham who, she alleged, had repeatedly harassed her on the basis of her gender identity and caste.
The athlete, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste community and is a native of Pudukottai district, sent the complaint on Tuesday to the NCTP, which attends to the grievances of inter-sex and gender non-conforming persons and takes suo motu cognisance of their grievances.
“We received the e-mail complaint from Santhi Soundarajan on Tuesday evening, and the NCTP has taken cognisance of it and will seek an explanation from Rajan Abraham, the Tamil magazine and the journalist who wrote the article,” Gopi Shankar told The Hindu on Wednesday. The article was “highly discriminatory and inter-phobic in nature”, he added.
In her complaint, the athlete alleged repeated gender-based and caste-based harassment by Rajan Abraham, her colleague, adding that he had also given interviews against her gender identity to the media, colleagues and trainees. She also complained that he was preventing her from discharging her official duties, and that the remarks allegedly made by him had affected her family members.
She sought protection for herself in the complaint she sent to the NCTP. Rajan Abraham, in a recent interview to the Tamil magazine, made remarks legitimising the gender test on Santhi, which was ruled unscientific by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2015, Gopi Shankar said.
The NCTP would file a criminal defamation complaint if it did not receive the replies within 30 days, he said. The organisation would constitute a fact-finding team to look into Santhi’s complaint and take necessary action based on the report after inquiring with her and Rajan Abraham.
“We are not treating it as an isolated case, but as an attack on female athletes with diverse sex characteristics,” Gopi Shankar said.
Santhi had, in September 2018, filed a harassment complaint against a male colleague, alleging that he had made casteist remarks and had made fun of her gender.
She also lodged a complaint with the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women, Gopi Shankar said.