FOSTER COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP EFFORTS
The key to our success so far has been the fact that we are run by and for the MSM community. An incubator for community leadership, Sahodaran has fostered four new CBOs that work with LGBTs, MSM and TGs. The specific focus of these CBOs is detailed below:
Thozhi is a CBO run by and for young, dynamic TG womenbased in South and Central Chennai, aiming to provide holistic support for members of the TG community, ranging from sexual health to crisis management, livelihood and social entitlements. Established in 2010 and registered in 2012, Thozhi was initially supported entirely by the savings of community members themselves, with Technical Support from Sahodaran Unit I. • Since 2014, Thozhi has implemented the Pehchan Pre-TI project from the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, reaching out to mobilize transgender women and educate them about HIV/AIDS prevention and care. • Thozhi has supported income generation programs enabling transgender women to make handmade mobile pouches, handbags and jewellery, and has twice (2013 and 2015) received the ‘Best Stall’ award from the Women’s Self Help Group Annual Fair held in Chennai. • Thozhi has actively advocated for the Tamil Nadu State Government to revitalize the stagnant Transgender Welfare Board and implement the provisions of the Supreme Court judgment of 2014 recognizing transgender rights. Thozhi’s efforts were rewarded in 2015 when the State Government finally granted 260 free homes to poor, homeless transgender women. • Thozhi has also pioneered innovative programs within the transgender community, including a sensitization program for jamath leaders (elders within the traditional transgender/thirunangai community) about surgery operations and care and support for their HIV-affected mentees, a sports meet for transgender women, and a large-scale public protest criticizing the negative portrayal of transgender women in Tamil cinema.
SnegithiEstablished in 2012 and registered in 2014, Snegithi is run by and for the TG community in North Chennai, with Technical Support from Sahodaran Unit II. Working in an extremely impoverished area, Snegithi’s efforts have been geared more towards securing the basic needs of slum-dwelling transgender women, such as housing and intervention during police crises. • Since February 2015, Snegithi has been actively advocating with the Ministry of Social Welfare to intervene in a housing crisis in North Chennai where over 50 transgender women were forcibly evicted from their residences. • In collaboration with Chennai Rainbow Pride Month, Snegithi also conducted a large-scale sensitization program for over 500 college-going youth in North Chennai (June 2015), supported by the U.S. Consulate in Chennai. This program was aimed at slowly developing in North Chennai the kind of awareness and sensitization that transgender women enjoy in more cosmopolitan areas of the city such as Central Chennai.
ITI (Indian Transgender Initiative)The India Transgender Initiative is a CBO established in 2012 and registered in 2013, that focuses on creating platforms for transgender women to sensitize the public about their needs through dance, theatre and debate. ITI facilitates the inclusion of transgender women’s performances in major television programs, as well as in annual festivals in Koovakkam, Salem, Madurai, and Kothattai.