Hyderabad: For Premaleela, a transgender woman, it was not just a job but about identity. Making beautiful baskets, bags, file holders and other products out of jute, Premaleela says they finally have an identity because of their job. Along with Premaleela, nine other transgender women, who found a ‘respectable’ life through the skill development programme […]
Hyderabad: For Premaleela, a transgender woman, it was not just a job but about identity. Making beautiful baskets, bags, file holders and other products out of jute, Premaleela says they finally have an identity because of their job.
Along with Premaleela, nine other transgender women, who found a ‘respectable’ life through the skill development programme offered by the Telangana State Women Cooperative Development Corporation and Prabhavana Co-operative Society, have seen their lives change drastically.
“We were earlier into begging and also sex workers. The way people treat us has not changed much outside, but on the inside, we know for ourselves that we are doing something productive, something our families can be proud of,” Premaleela says.
Starting the day with regular chores at home, these transgender women reach work by 10 am and spend the day experimenting and making different varieties of jute products. After four months of training, they have now become perfect with the craft that they even watch YouTube videos for newer ideas.
It was not easy to find a skill that could earn them a living. Disowned by their families, they found shelter with transgender groups and began eking out a livelihood through begging, dancing and as sex workers. Their self-confidence died a natural death.
“I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to be a woman. I started behaving like a woman and was bullied in high school. Even my father began beating me up. I escaped from home and joined a transgender community. The leader of the community, Jasmine, referred me to this skill development programme. Now, I send money to my parents every month,” shares Pavitra, a new name she, like her friends, got as they joined the community.
“My sister, who stopped talking to me for a long time, saw me do well and is in touch now. I am even allowed to play with her kids,” shares Sahasra.
Aswini, another transwoman, has adopted a child and plans to send her to school soon. “Although my parents accepted me, it’s difficult to go home during the day as villagers and relatives taunt me. So I visit my parents secretly at the night,” shares Geeta, who previously worked as a dancer and now proudly talks about her job in public.
The State government is also doing its bit. When transgender communities asked for livelihood generation programmes, they were referred to learning the skill of making jute products.
“It was not a smooth ride at first, but with time, it turned out to be a fruitful one,” says Deepa Sanka of Prabhavan Co-operative Society.
The Women’s Cooperative Development Corporation gives them accommodation, food and transport expenses, apart from Group IV accredited contract-based salaries of Rs 15,600 per month.