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Helpline for transgenders launched

Special Correspondent

It will primarily be useful in finding employment for them, says Subburaj

— Photo: V. Ganesan

A HELPING HAND: V.K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health (left), launching ‘Manasu’ for transgenders in Chennai on Friday. R. Lakshmi Bai, director, TAI (right), and N.S. Murali, secretary, VHS, are in the picture.

CHENNAI: A helpline for members of the transgender community, their families and the public was launched by V.K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health, on Friday.

The helpline (25990505), set up by Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative-Voluntary Health Services (TAI-VHS), seeks to provide information to all those looking for information about the transgender community. It will function between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Mr. Subburaj said the helpline would primarily be useful in finding employment for the trangenders. “The numbers are not very high. I’m sure we can find jobs for all the transgendered people,” he said.

TAI lauded

He congratulated TAI on its exemplary service to the members of the community over the past five years. It was the only such organisation working with a clear focus on the rights of the transgenders throughout the country. Credit for this should go to TAI director Lakshmi Bai, he said.

‘Manasu’ would not merely be a phone helpline, Dr. Lakshmi Bai said. The counsellors could speak fluently in English and Tamil and offer guidance and referrals. The aim was to get families to accept their transgender children, reducing stigma and keeping the groups in the public sphere. She said this was for the first time that such a large-scale campaign for the transgenders was being launched in the country.

A series of public service announcements would be made on television and radio and in theatres, portraying issues such as family and community acceptance and recognition of the skills of the transgenders, Dr. Lakshmi Bai said. There was a lot of government support for the transgenders, but community support was lacking. Manasu would try to bring in this essential component.

Three members of the community who supported the transgenders were felicitated.

Balamani of Salem was recognised for accepting the transformation of her son into Gopika; Saraswathi, the landlady, for renting out her house to transgenders and treating them as members of her family; and Vasundhara, the beautician, who ran the first vocational training course for the transgenders.

VHS Secretary N.S.Murali spoke.

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