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Friday, August 06, 2021

Pune: Beauty salon offers styling and makeovers for members of transgender community

Kamakshi Madan, director of Aarzoo, said the sole purpose of the initiative was to convey the message that everyone has the right to feel beautiful irrespective of one's gender.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: June 25, 2021 10:20:22 am
Transgender activist Sonali Dalvi, binary person (gender fluid) Ameya Hemmady and transman Trinay get a make over at a salon on Thursday. (Express photograph by Arul Horizon)

They deal with a lot of hardships and hate for being queer. While ‘coming out’ takes courage, in a novel initiative, a city-based matchmaking platform, Aarzoo, decided to celebrate the ongoing Pride Month by giving several members of the LGBTQ community a makeover at a local beauty salon. As a step towards encouraging their acceptance and inclusion in society, the initiative saw transgender activist Sonali Dalvi, Ameya Hemmady, who identifies as non-binary, and trans man Trinay sharing space with others at the salon on Thursday.

“There are many who are likely to cringe at the thought of a trans person sitting next to them and availing of services at the same salon. So, when we talk of accepting them and including them in society, I decided why not bring them together for basic services at the same salon,” said Kamakshi Madan, director of Aarzoo. She said the sole purpose of the initiative was to convey the message that everyone has the right to feel beautiful irrespective of one’s gender.

“The pride march has been deferred for two consecutive years. There are very few spaces for members of the LGBTQ community to voice their concerns. Through our offline matchmaking platform, there are several who can connect with each other or find a companion. We also extended our services to give a patient ear to their grievances and work like a support system for those who wanted psychological and medical counselling,” said Madan.

For the initiative, Madan joined hands with Aarti Walia, owner of the beauty salon, The First. “We were really open to this idea and provided complimentary services to some of the members of this community,” she said.

At the salon, 38-year-old Ameya Hemmady, who freelances as a content writer and choreographer and identifies as a non-binary person (an individual who does not identify as either masculine or feminine but possesses both traits) got their hair styled in pink and purple streaks. Trinay (30), a trans man who works at an IT firm, said he usually visits a local men’s parlour and this was a good idea.

Transgender activist Sonali Dalvi said there was a need for more inclusion of LGBTQ members in society. “For centuries, we have been isolated and it is time we also get equal rights… there are only a few parlours that are really open to the idea of providing services to members of the community. For years, several have been visiting `Pink Parlour’ at Raviwar Peth.”

However, there is hesitancy on part of community members to visit such salons where there are other cis-gender people. “But there is a need to break these barriers… we are taking up several causes of transgender members…,” she said.

Arifa Shaikh (66) of `Pink Parlour’ said she had trained as a beautician 40 years ago. “… There was a vacant room at Raviwar Peth and I decided to start my parlour there. There were some ‘posh’ parlours which did not accept members of the transgender community but we have been open to all,” she said.

Struggle to get transgender identify certificates

Trinay, a 30-year-old trans man (transgender man identified as female at birth), who works at an IT firm, had a sex reassignment surgery a year ago but continues to face challenges . ”I have applied for a transgender certificate and ID card but to no avail,” he said.

Bindu Madhav Khire, director of the Bindu Queer Rights Foundation and coordinator of Maharashtra Queer Network, is fighting a lone battle in helping a majority of transgender community members get their ID cards. “We have filed seven to eight applications on the central national portal of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, seeking certificates and ID cards for members of the transgender community. Verified scanned documents have been uploaded and the process completed with unique application numbers being sent to the applicants. However, five months after the process, the certificates or ID cards have still not been distributed, “ Khire said.

Lack of these identification certificates and cards leads to a delay in applying for government schemes, he added.

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