A proposal by the transgender community to build a dedicated counselling centre to rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts remains pending with the state social justice and special assistance department for the last two years.
Data with Kinnar Maa Trust, an NGO that works for the rights of transgenders, shows that a survey conducted on 500 transgenders in Mahim, Dharavi, Bandra and Govandi — in collaboration with Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) —has found that 30 per cent of the respondents were involved in drug and alcohol abuse.
“The trend among transgenders is to take Methamphet-amine drug, gutka, Trinex tablets and alcohol,” said Priya Patil from the trust.
Last week, in a counselling session held at MDACS, over 100 transgenders came together to discuss their addiction problems. Together, they counted over 31 drugs in rampant use, including heroine, injectables and party drug mephedrone. Some also spoke of addiction to scorpion bite.
According to Bosco D’souza, national programme director of Kripa Foundation, the transgender community remains at greater risk of drug abuse since the members live in isolation. “The community is stigmatised, they leave their parents’ homes. It is natural for them to get prone to alcohol or drugs,” said D’Souza, who runs a de-addiction centre in Vasai.
Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of psychiatry department in KEM hospital, said while drug abuse is high among transgenders, very few admit to it and seek counselling or rehabilitation. “The community still remains underground. They are scared of reaching out for such services. Social stigma is a major reason,” she said, adding that once addicted, the process of rehabilitation becomes difficult.
In May 2017, the trust had submitted a proposal to the city assistant commissioner of social justice and special
assistance department for starting a dedicated counselling centre for transgenders to undergo de-addiction. An inspection was carried out but the proposal was not forwarded to the department.
A department official said they are yet to receive the proposal from the city assistant commissioner. “A dedicated facility will create confidence among transgenders to seek help. Undergoing rehabilitation with community members becomes easy,” said Salma Khan, the city’s first transgender member of Lok Adalat. She added that the community faces discrimination and avoids visiting counselling centre for de-addiction.
Varsha Vidya Vilas, secretary of Maharashtra Rajya Nashabandi Mandal, which works with the government on de-addiction programmes, said that there is no programme that exclusively looks into this issue. “Once the new government is formed, we will push for a centre,” she added.