Building an inclusive world for Trans community
ARISE Trans(forming) Lives is a project that aims to enhance the livelihood options and overall wellbeing of the LGBTIAQ+ community in Bangalore and nearby districts.
This was initiated in August 2018 with the pilot phase of ARISE Trans(forming) Lives. The unique approach of this project is that it is community-led. Most of the members of the community are shaping and guiding the project, and the needs and rights of the community members are centred in this project.
Three key strategies were adopted to meet this goal. The first strategy aimed to create inclusive workspaces by supporting companies in conducting sensitisation and awareness sessions on sex, gender and sexuality and practical issues around employing people from the community. The second strategy focused on building capacities and self-confidence of trans people by offering basic communication and other behavioural upskilling for preparing them for the formal sector jobs. Mental health services were also available to candidates to build confidence and help them deal with personal challenges. The third strategy was aimed at creating supportive ecosystems by assigning buddies and mentors to help candidates navigate the workplace and set up career goals.
The learnings from the pilot phase were crucial for the next phase of the project. It is now a more holistic and robust programmatic intervention that offers a comprehensive foundation course to trans community members. It includes technical topics such as financial literacy, digital literacy, policy awareness, and personality development, communication skills, leadership, and mental well-being. Besides, the project team has worked to build an institutional partnership with agencies working for mental health and educational institutions. Our work with companies and community-based organisations has also become more streamlined to ensure the effective placement of the upskilled candidates.
The impact of the project is multi-fold; firstly, most people who access formal sector jobs through this project are getting these opportunities for the first time, as opposed to earlier when they were engaged in informal jobs with minimum pay and no security. Secondly, the project can offer basic and need-based technical skill courses to candidates who have been unable to access these services due to low self-esteem, discrimination faced in accessing services and lack of support. Thirdly, many companies and small businesses are getting sensitised and building trans-inclusive workspaces that provide equal opportunities for all individuals, irrespective of their gender identity and sexual orientation. And lastly, by working with a range of stakeholders such as community-based organisations, counsellors, formal sector employers, social activists and many more like-hearted people, the project can create safe support systems for the LGBTIAQ+ community through rigorous and sustained rights-based, social justice driven developmental interventions. More than 3000 trans people have been positively impacted with the help of this program, more than 1500 have been counselled on personal and family issues and many participants who joined formal jobs after upskilling are now earning a substantive income. This year, the program has integrated a comprehensive mental health program with active help from a team of psychologists, preventive health care specialists and psychiatrists who provide in-person counselling and online/tele-counseling sessions in sustained mode. In the last few months, this programmatic thread has helped not only the trans community but also those who are facing emotional trauma or mental agony in any form due to the COVID-19 lockdown effect.
Overall, the project is transforming not only the lives of members of the LGBTIAQ+ community but also appealing to the larger society to shed prejudice and become more accepting of differences and diversity.