Lakshmi Selin Thomas – ‘Naik Sardar’ of Delhi’s transgender community

Lakshmi alias Selin Thomas is a transgender activist from Delhi, of Kerala origin. Fondly known by the title ‘Naik Sardar’, she works towards the uplift of Delhi’s transgender community. She leads more than 35,000 people belonging to this category. From a denounced seminarian to a transgender activist, she played a magnificent role, working towards rehabilitating lakhs of marginalized transgenders and also help them learn a trade and find self-employment.

Lakshmi Selin Thomas – Early life

Lakshmi was born as younger son in a family in Koorambala near Pandalam of Pathanamthitta district into a Christian family. Later her family shifted to Kulathooppuzha, where she completed her schooling. She lost her father at a young age, and her mother faced a lot of hardships to bring up the kids.

Since young she loved wearing skirts, and wanted to dress like a girl, which her family never allowed. When neighbours started noticing it, the mother took children to Chennai, where her elder brother was employed. She was only 8 or 10 years old then. One day, a boy saw her making garland & wearing on hair, and informed her mother, for which she was beaten mercilessly. She was so much tortured in the following days that Lakshmi left the home at the age of 12.

She reached Kaladipett village of Thiruvattiyoor, and a transgender named Muthamma accepted her as daughter. It’s called ‘Chela’ in local language. Age is not a restriction to make ‘Chela’, and only mutual consent is needed. Symbolically mother gives milk to the daughter to complete the ceremony. Very soon her mother found her and took back to Chennai.

She learnt in seminary for a short time

She wanted to become a Catholic priest, and joined the Bethany seminary in Thiruvananthapuram. Within six months, some of my classmates and priests started doubting about her gender, and very soon she was expelled from seminary.

While in Chennai, due to bitter experiences in her life, she even decided to end her life by jumping in front of a train. But a lady saved her. She advised her not to end life, but to start a new living, and even took her to a community of transgenders. It was a new beginning in the life of Lakshmi. She completed her pre-degree studies, even joined Bangalore Medical college, but dropped out of college.

She is working in Delhi for more than 25 years

She resides in Dera of Pahai Deeraj of Sattar Baazar, Old Delhi. This building was built exclusively for them during the reign of Mughals. She owns a home at Thiruvananthapuram also. Among the four hijra gharanas, namely, Sujani, Rai, Kalyani and Mandi, Lakshmi leads Sujani group, and remains as their ‘queen’.

Now Lakshmi leads a group of 35,000 transgenders, belonging to Sujani, as their 12th ‘Naik Sardar’, and she was chosen as the leader by thousands of representatives (Naiks) assembled together. Through this organization she is connected to lakhs to transgenders and their problems. Most of them are unemployed, and are invited to religious ceremonies and weddings in big cities.

Throughout her journey, she has faced both appreciation and protests, and sometimes even felt to leave the position. Yet she carried her responsibilities on shoulders all these years. When a Sujani dies, Naik Sardar should reach there, and she is the last one to wrap the body with Dusala (a type of cloth). She should be present in the customs & rituals following it, and should give opinions too.

In Delhi, their main source of income is earned through singing and dancing on occasions of marriages and new children in the families. They also bless kids and couples. They accumulate their earnings together and share from it. Though the life of transgenders in other parts of the country has very much improved, in Delhi, it’s a long path to go, and Lakshmi is doing her best.

Lakshmi Selin Thomas – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. She is a sworn celibate, who views men and women alike. She was tempted to take the path of prostitution to earn a living, but her religious thoughts prevented her from doing so.

2. She is the 12th ‘Naik Sardar’ of the community, and first Sardar outside Muslim community. They have freedom to choose religion. She is also the first south Indian to serve this position.

3. She has Chelas (adopted daughters).


(Visited 87 times, 1 visits today)


A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *