TAMIL NADU

Federation formed to empower transgenders, marginalised women

LOFTY: Member of Parliament Kanimozhi; Social Welfare Board Chairperson Salma; VHS secretary N.S.Murali; Health Secretary V.K.Subburaj and TAI-VHS Project Director R.Lakshmibai at the launch of the Tamil Nadu TAI Vizhudugal Federation in Chennai on Tuesday.

LOFTY: Member of Parliament Kanimozhi; Social Welfare Board Chairperson Salma; VHS secretary N.S.Murali; Health Secretary V.K.Subburaj and TAI-VHS Project Director R.Lakshmibai at the launch of the Tamil Nadu TAI Vizhudugal Federation in Chennai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

Staff Reporter

More community clinics to address their problems planned

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative, Voluntary Health Services (TAI-VHS), has brought 20,000 transgenders and marginalised women together, in a newly-formed federation that aims to empower the community and make them self-reliant.

Member of Parliament Kanimozhi and Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board Chairperson Salma formally inaugurated the federation here on Tuesday. Transgender and marginalised women from 14 districts participated.

Addressing presspersons ahead of the launch, TAI-VHS Project Director R.Lakshmibai said the organisation wanted to go beyond HIV/AIDS prevention work and bring about socio-economic empowerment of the community. She clarified that the marginalised women, now part of the federation, had either been rescued or continued in sex work and remained vulnerable to exploitation.

“Instead of addressing their problems separately, we wanted to bring them together so as to widen their support network,” she said. The Tamil Nadu TAI Vizhudugal Federation would network with other NGOs and the recently formed state welfare board for the transgenders. The federation would charge members a fee of Rs.50 annually and it has already raised Rs.10 lakh as corpus fund. It also hopes to attract external funding and raise funds through community shows. Those interested can register with the community before January 31.

While the federation would lay stress on health services and health advocacy by opening more community clinics, it would also help members to prevent violence against or within the community, educate their children, provide skill-based training and loans to encourage micro-entrepreneurship, provide legal services, conduct financial literacy programmes and so on.

TAI-VHS currently runs 32 free clinics, however, these would be shut down eventually and the new low-cost community clinics would replace them, Ms.Lakshmibai said. The fees collected would generate financial resources for the community to be able to run it on its own. “We aim to open two clinics in a year,” she said.

Responding to a query, she said the clinics would not have facilities for sex-reassignment surgeries as these are complex and expensive and can only be offered in a well-equipped hospital. She said transgenders were now being counselled against undergoing crude surgeries as it could endanger their health.

Health Secretary V. K. Subburaj, VHS Secretary N. S. Murali and representatives from Avahan, the India AIDS initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and donors of TAI-VHS, participated in the launch.

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