Dr. Sylvester Rodgers, also known as Sylvie, is a well-known celebrity hair stylist from Delhi. Rodgers began her career working as an ob-gyn, “delivering babies and all that,” she explains. But after spending a few months with her cousin, who at that time was a student at the American Institute of Aesthetics, Rodgers discovered a passion for hairdressing.
Rodgers returned to India in the 1980s, taking a job at a salon. Within two years, she was so popular that she was able to open her own salon. But things were not easy for a trans hairdresser with little knowledge of Hindi.
On top of that, she was one of the first out trans women to demand that her identity be respected and that she be allowed to move freely in the sexually restrictive atmosphere.
"People called me names,” she recalled of those dark days. “‘The gay from abroad has come, there he goes ... eunuch.’ It was tough.”
But Rodgers also fondly recalled moments when her mother stood by her side, supporting her daughter: "She told me to live in dignity. Nothing is taboo, she stressed. Homosexuality had been in India since ancient times and would always be there.”
These days, things are looking bright for Rodgera. "Don't ask me how, but everything changed very fast,” she said. “And now, as you know, I'm a big celebrity.”