Members of the transgender community pose with one of the posters made for the relief campaign.(HT Photo)
Members of the transgender community pose with one of the posters made for the relief campaign.(HT Photo)

Transgenders arrange flood relief in Bengal for the first time

Transgender groups from Kolkata, Malda and North Dinajpur districts have joined hands to collect and distribute relief material among flood-affected people in north Bengal districts.
By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri | Hindustan Times, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON AUG 22, 2017 04:55 PM IST

Members of transgender community, more than 40 in all, have organised flood relief in Bengal. This is for the first time they have undertaken the effort in a year when large parts of 11 districts have been inundated. So far 152 lives have been lost and around 1.5 crore people are affected.

Transgender groups from Kolkata, Malda and North Dinajpur districts have joined hands to collect and distribute relief materials among flood-affected people in north Bengal districts of Malda and North Dinajpur, the two worst affected districts. 

Read: In another first, Bengal gets a transgender Lok Adalat judge

Debi Acharya, who is in charge of the project in Malda, said that along with other transgender rights activists, she started going door-to -door to collect clothes, rice, biscuits, dry food, ORS and water purifying tablets. 

“Collection from Malda district alone will be inadequate. Therefore, I contacted my associates in Kolkata and the transgender rights group, Samabhabana. They helped by collecting material from Kolkata and transporting them to Malda and North Dinajpur, Acharya told HT.

Members of NGOs with relief material at a collection centre in Kolkata. (HT Photo)
Members of NGOs with relief material at a collection centre in Kolkata. (HT Photo)

The relief work should also drive home the point that transgenders may face harassment and discrimination every day but they are eager to help those who don’t feel comfortable in their company. “Our relief work is for everyone and not just for the flood- affected people from our own community,” she said. 

Like Debi, Joyita Mahi Mondal and her organisation Notun Alo (New Light), has undertaken relief work in North Dinajpur. “We face discrimination every day. Society is not bothered about us. But in this moment of crisis, we could not ignore the call of humanity,” said Mondal, who is also the first transgender Lok Adalat judge in West Bengal. 

Read: Bengal’s transgender development board all-around failure, alleges member

 The person coordinating the arrangements in Kolkata, is city- based LGBTQ (Lesbian- Gay- Bisexual- Trangender- Queer) rights activist, Avinaba Dutta. 

“When I got the call from Debi and Joyita, I sincerely felt that something needs to be done to support them. I contacted Samabhabana and its founder Raina Roy. The founder of the first LGBTQ café (Amra Odbhuth Café) in Kolkata, also came forward to assist us,” Dutta said. 

Dutta said two teams have left for North Dinajpur and Malda with the relief materials. “The transportation has been arranged by my friend and LGBTQ rights activist, Ainjishnu Roy,” he said.

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