Women's SHG forms transgender unit in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram
19 Feb 2017

Women's self-help group, Kudumbashree, which empowered over 42 lakh households through various entrepreneurial initiatives, is now gearing up to rehabilitate the transgender community in the state by forming an exclusive neighbourhood group for them.
A Neighbourhood Group (NHG), the lowest tier of Kudumbashree, was formed with transgenders as members in Kottayam district, one of the places with large population of third genders in the state.
Titled 'Manaswini,' the new NHG registered with the Kottayam North Community Development Society (CDS) of the self-help group, has 12 transgenders as members. Interestingly, Kerala is the first state in the country which unveiled a policy to end the societal stigma towards the sexual minority group.
Kudumbashree sources said the core objective of the move is to end the plight of the community, rehabilitate them and integrate them into mainstream society. Many transgenders lead a lonely and low profile life and also find hard to get a decent means of living owing to gender issues, they claimed. "Social acceptance is still a dream for transgenders in the state. They are not getting acceptance even in their own home or among relatives.
Some of them even said they could not even go to a hospital or attend a marriage as people question their gender identity," Gender consultant, Kudumbshree Mission, Usha Devi told PTI. "Kudumbashree's state mission recently decided to form special NHGs comprising vulnerable sections like senior citizens, differently-abled and transgenders as members. Thus, we came up with the idea of forming an NHG of the sexual minority group," she said.
The self-help group reached out to the transgenders in Kottayam with the help of District Legal Service Authority which provides legal awareness to Kudumbashree members, she said.
On helping transgenders finding self-employment, the official said they are yet to take a final decision in this regard. "Kudumbashree helps its members take up variety of self-employment initiatives. It is for the first time that we have transgenders as members.
So, discussions are progressing about the nature of self-employment suitable for them. We may soon consult our state Mission to take a final decision," Devi added. Kudumbashree was launched in 1998 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (PTI)