Unveiling transgender livelihoods

RC Calcutta Presidency members Asha Gupta and Priyanka Gupta distributing packed food to transgender guests at the fashion show.
RC Calcutta Presidency members Asha Gupta and Priyanka Gupta distributing packed food to transgender guests at the fashion show.

Here is an impressive story of four ­transgenders who started their new journey from learning to sew to becoming fashion designers, all thanks to RC Calcutta ­Presidency, RID 3291.

Two years ago, Ranjita Sinha, a transwoman, introduced 10 transgenders to the club to be trained in tailoring to help provide them a livelihood. “We engaged a teacher to take classes twice a week and equipped a government centre with four ­sewing machines and accessories. The material required for practising was given by a fabric boutique, Geeta’s Circle,” said club president
Rina Malpani.

They now have a skill which can provide them economic security, and their self-confidence has gone up tremendously.

After the completion of basic classes, the club engaged a ­fashion design expert Dipanwita who took four of them under her wing and taught them to create designer wear.

Enthused by the students’ progress, “last December we planned a fashion show with the theme ‘Ardhanarishwar’, a composite form of Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati. We encouraged our students to design the costumes in line with the theme,” said Rina. The dresses were ready in a month and the club gave them a stipend for their work.

The club’s protégés Ayaan, Rayan, Debanjan and Shruti, along with transgender models.
The club’s protégés Ayaan, Rayan, Debanjan and Shruti, along with transgender models.

Ranjita, through her Instagram page, invited transgender models, makeup artists, photographers and choreographers to audition for the show. Sponsors were roped in and the ICCR Centre, Kolkata, was booked for the event. After hours of gruelling practice in choreography and catwalk, and dress rehearsals, the models put up a grand show on D-day.

DG Ajoy Kumar Law, ­Hindustan Aeronautics ­director Pranab Kumar Sharma, ­stylist guru Anupam Choudhry, ­filmmakers Anandita Sabdhikari and Hijra Guru Bandana Nayak, and dancer Aloka Nanda were among the guests at the fashion show. ­Transgender Venkatesh from ­Mumbai was the master of ­ceremonies for the event.

One of the transwomen is now employed at the boutique and the other three have also been placed elsewhere. Project coordinator Sangeeta Jain said that one of the trainees, a transman, made good business at the district conference where the club had put up a tailoring stall to showcase the project. “He received several orders for masks, towels and handkerchiefs at the stall.”


Rina is happy that the future is secure and bright for the transgender costume designers. “They now have a skill which can provide them economic security. We can see that their self-­confidence has gone up tremendously.”

The club has also facilitated CPR training to a few transgenders so that they can help out with first-aid during an emergency. The 50-member club is planning to carry forward the projects related to transgender welfare to the next year too, when ­Sangeeta will take over as its president.

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