TRANScend, an initiative by The Humsafar Trust and supported by TLG India private limited, aims to enhance socioeconomic inclusion of transgender people in India. It works towards enhancing inclusivity and acceptance of transgender communities in India through research and intervention into the socioeconomic and educational needs of community, skills and capacity building, sensitization of stakeholders (corporates and educational institutions), and providing the pathways to accessing services like Aadhaar cards, PAN, cards, changes of gazette details (name, gender, etc.), and bank accounts.
The pilot phase of TRANScend, supported by Publicis Sapient (then Sapient India), kickstarted in June 2017 and was implemented in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. As part of this pilot phase, a first of its kind baseline research on socio-economic needs of the transgender community in India was conducted using quantitative survey with 518 trans persons and qualitative in-depth interviews with 17 trans persons in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. The research was conducted by community researchers from partner organizations who were duly trained in conducting scientific research by the Humsafar Trust research team.
In addition to the training of Research investigators, two more capacity building workshops were conducted and a total of 63 trans persons, representatives from the partner CBOs and Transmen representatives from the three project sites, attended these 3 workshops on legal awareness, advocacy strategies, creating and strengthening Transgender Welfare Boards (TWB), effective use of social media in branding and running campaigns and effective interaction with print and electronic media.
163 trans persons were enrolled in 17 skill building programs in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore in the pilot phase of the project. An important part of this process was to sensitize institutions conducting these courses and ensure that transgender persons are able to become part of the skills development programs without being subjected to issues of stigma and discrimination.
Drawing from the work done by The Humsafar Trust to create awareness of gender and sexuality in healthcare setups, legal spaces, and with other stakeholders, we developed more specialized content to target educational institutes and corporations, especially around issues of transgender inclusion. The manuals created under TRANScend formed the basis of a module developed to conduct awareness and sensitization workshops in the three project sites of Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. A total of 37 workshops were conducted (15 with educational institutes and 22 with corporates) with 1089 people attending these workshops.
610 social entitlement and identity documents were made for transgender individuals in Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi. These included Aadhar Card, PAN card, Voter ID, Karnataka Government WCD loan, Bank accounts, BPL Ration card, Caste certificates, Gender certificates, and Name change in gazette.
Some of the major challenges faced in the pilot phase of TRANScend included difficulties in obtaining social entitlement documents like Aadhar cards, pan cards, etc. due to lack of personal documents and ID and address proofs and bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining documents in the preferred gender identity. Additionally, Aadhar centers in Delhi and Mumbai had been non-functional for the past couple of months. Absence of Aadhar cards had put a halt to processing other ID cards as well. In certain cases, we conducted advocacy with bureaucrats and politicians. Advocacy with local politicians and bureaucrats in order to arrive at innovative means of obtaining social entitlement documents has also resulted in the visibility of the project and holds promise for their support in the subsequent phases of the project.
Skill building programs too progressed at a rather slow pace because of lack of feasible alternative sources of livelihoods offered by existing skill building programs resulting in low uptake of the courses by the community. We needed to be creative and we looked for unconventional sources of skill building like entrepreneurship driven courses and collaborations between multiple entities to arrive at programs that suited the needs of the community meaningfully. We facilitated partnerships between varied agencies in different geographies to customize skill building programs that suit the needs and requirements of the community. An example in the partnership between VLCC and Beauty and Wellness Sector Skills Council (an arm of PMKVY) to organize Beauty and Wellness courses in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The second phase of TRANScend started in April 2018 and aimed at a gradual evolution of TRANScend from a project to an initiative. A larger pool of community-based organizations and groups were involved in TRANScend through seed grants for innovative ideas and other advocacy activities designed and developed by the CBOs responding to needs of the community in their respective geographical areas.
We made significant progress in our engagement with corporates on workplace inclusion of transgender persons. It is also aimed towards initiating a structured process of advocacy with educational institutes and corporates drawing from the successful development of manuals and modules for sensitization of and experience of conducting workshops with 37 such entities in the pilot phase. A new activity that was initiated under TRANScend was to organize roundtable discussions between corporates and the community. In the pilot phase, need to initiate a dialogue between the two emerged in order to facilitate meaningful inclusion of trans persons in workplaces. The initial roundtables focused on the overall discussion of challenges faced by the two parties in achieving their goals of inclusion and sharing of best practices and success stories. However, as the initiative matures gradually, these roundtables will focus more and more on thematic areas of addressing specific challenges like policies around transition, insurance, workplace communication, charting a career growth path for trans-employees, and so on.
In addition to corporates and educational institutes, we reached out to several other stakeholders as well and conducted sensitization on gender and sexuality. This phase saw an initiation of policy advocacy which is envisioned to become a cornerstone of our work in the years to come where we will primarily be advocating towards large scale policy changes and policy making with government stakeholders based on needs that emerge during our course of work under TRANScend.
In FY 2021-22 TRANScend with the support from TLG India private limited were able to directly benefit 961 trans person through our project and indirect benefit to 208 trans person. The project has made a close impact on the lives of those individuals. Our Capacity building workshop helped us to support 261 trans individuals. The capacities were built on topics like constitution of India, climate change, Haqdarshak for social entitlement and government schemes. Individuals who received the training on constitution further took an effort to trained additional 81 trans person in their respective regions. The project team engaged with 13 organizations on policy inclusion and helped us sensitize 335 corporate employees. We also engaged with 300+ employers for their Recruitment related requirements and we successfully employed 12 trans person. The project also extended the support to 42 Transgender persons with upskilling opportunities and provided career counseling to 24 Trans persons.
Due to COVID19 last two years has been really challenging for the project teams, however, TRANScend had organized 17 virtual consultations on violence against trans persons which was attended by 197 individuals from 13 states. This eventually translated into preparing 42 letters which will be submitted to relevant stakeholders. TRANScend has also piloted one of its kind imitative in country by supporting 22 transgender entrepreneurs who wanted to set up their own businesses. All entrepreneurs received mentorship from 8 industry experts to set up their businesses and currently receiving seed fund support from The Humsafar Trust. The project had conducted 6 advocacy meetings with various stakeholders in which 53 trans persons participated.
TRANScend, as an initiative, is committed to encouraging greater community ownership, facilitating partnerships between the community and various stakeholders like corporates, educational institutes, judiciary, bureaucrats, and providing a platform for addressing the ever- evolving needs of the transgender community through ongoing research and intervention.
Currently, TRANScend initiative is supported by TLG India private limited for FY 2022 – 23 and continues working with Transgender/Hijra communities in India.