Helping LGBTQ people find their feet

Courts rule them out as criminals; society deems them ‘weird’ and refuses to recognise them. We at Enactus Ramjas stand with the community in this unfair fight,” reads the text on the website of Enactus Ramjas, which is working towards increasing awareness about the capital city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community, help them become self-sufficient and develop a steady source of income through entrepreneurial action.

Started in October 2011, project ‘TransCreations’ was initiated by the students of this Delhi University college when one of them saw the stigmatisation one of his friends faced on revealing his sexual orientation, along with the realisation that transgender live in pitiable conditions and are forced to resort to sex work in the absence of opportunities for economic advancements.

“The project’s primary objective is economic progress of transgender with a stable and dignified source of income. However, the idea is not merely limited to this. We have been striving to ensure a more inclusive and tolerant society through numerous campaigns and drives organised to spread awareness and sensitivity about this gender,” Priyank Kishore, executive member, Enactus Ramjas, tells Metrolife.

Launched with a group of five transgender, the project currently has 15 members who make jewellery at the rate of Rs 15 per piece and manage to earn up to Rs 5,000 each per month.

“They are an extremely sensitive lot and have to be dealt with a lot of warmth and love. Most of them are experts in the field of music and dance, art and craft among other things. They also possess a great fashion sense. Jewellery designing was something they were interested in, given their creative streak and knowledge base. Thus it was a natural choice,” says Kishore, explaining why they decided to opt for jewellery-making.

Currently, TransCreations has collaborations with two NGOs, Pahal Foundation in Saket and Shape India in Laxmi Nagar. “Both these areas have a huge hidden transgender population, we had been told, and therefore they were chosen to maximise impact,” he adds.

Open to any community member having “a heart and soul that is burning with a desire to progress”, initially, the members were trained by professional accessory designers from NIFT Delhi and Pearl Academy. Quick learners, as they are, the entire training module was over in a span of three to four sessions, says Kishore. He adds that now the new members are trained by existing members themselves. “Every now and then we organise a session with experts where they can innovate and reinvent the existing product line as per market demand,” he says.

Kishore says that most of the raw material for the products is sourced from markets like Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazaar.

TransCreations products are currently displayed at Tatsat in Shahpur Jat. Additionally, a majority of their produce is sold through online portals and sales representatives. They are also in the process of collaborating with Flipkart and Snapdeal.

“I have been associated with the project for nearly a year and I, along with other members, feel very confident. TransCreations has also motivated us to look beyond sex work and pursue something we are passionate about,” a member said.

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