A school that aims to provide basic education and skills to transgender people in order to help them become financially independent has opened in Vasai, Thane district. Most of the teachers and administrators of the school are also transgender people.
Touted as the first school to cater specifically to the community in Maharashtra, it was started by activist Mehendi Ali with the help of NGO Shri Mahashakti Charitable Trust in Vasai's Rajivali locality last month. Twenty five students have already enrolled at the school.
The Kinnar Vidyalay (transgender school) has been a long standing dream of Ali, herself a trans person. She has always been pained by the level of discrimination and ridicule that the community faces, and believes that education can help improve their social standing.
A prime example of the how this discrimination might mar a person's career is 26-year-old Paras Thakur. Constant bullying led her to drop out of college. Her dream of becoming an air hostess broke when she was informed the position was not open to trans people. When she decided to pursue a sales job after all of this, her supervisor told her to dress like a man which she refused to do. Today, she is a teacher at this Kinnar Vidyalay.
Ali had started a similar initiative in Chennai but that didn't work out. She has been working on this project for at least four years. Luckily, she garnered enough sport from local authorities, government officials and high ranking professionals that she could see the school up and running in June 2021.
General secretary of the Trust Vishal Bhagat informed Likho that the school has started some online activities for its students and will begin classroom coaching whenever the government allows it. "Other than primary education, we will also help in upskilling our students through teaching them arts & crafts, waste management, computer training among other things," he said.
He added that the students have also been provided stationary by another NGO. They are now planning to reach out to inclusive organisations where their students can be placed after some basic training.