Discrimination is a massive barrier for trans people in India to access stable employment and start a business.
Trans people are often forced into begging or sex work to make ends meet. But one business fair is about to change all of that.
This weekend The Trans and Hijra Empowerment Mela (fair) will help make the trans community financially independent.
Trans people from more than 12 states will have stall at the fair showcasing their skills either in cooking, make-up, mehendi (body art), handicrafts and design.
Mumbai based volunteer organization Anam Prem organized the fair.
‘It is very important to change and transform societal perceptions about the community,’ volunteer Krupali Bidaye told The Asian Age.
‘People are always of the opinion that members of the community are dancing, begging or into flesh-trade to make money, but that isn’t always the case.’
Titli is one of the stall holders who said things are improving for trans people.
‘Most of the members in our community in Mulund are into begging or sex-trade because that is the regular means of income for them; but things have started to change for the good after our first stint at the empowerment mela,’ they said.
‘We are confident, we have learnt to sustain ourselves by selling flowers, and one of our members even runs a stall of sandwiches while the other sells gajras at Bhandup station.
‘This wasn’t the case earlier; we thought people wouldn’t accept us considering they never have. We are now convincing other members of the community to try their hand at these small entrepreneurial ventures.
LGBTI activist Swapnil had faced a lot of discrimination while looking for work so they decided to focus on their own community.
‘I decided to work with my people only. During the mela, five of us had set-up stalls, we made bamboo jewellery, handicraft artefacts and the response was good,’ they said.
‘We receive orders and are confident of making a livelihood on our own. The income isn’t much but at least we know that our work can sell and people would like to buy stuff from us.
‘It feels so good to have an identity of one’s own; we now plan to set-up a paperbag manufacturing unit. If the society were even a little supportive towards us, a lot of our problems would be solved easily.’