LAHORE – Honey, a 23-year transgender, says she wants to change her life and live like a normal human being. She is fed up of her current lifestyle and complains that everyone makes fun of her.
“People don’t seem to think that transgender also have hearts like others. We also have desires and emotions. We also feel anger and love. I am completely fed up of this situation and want to do a job to become financially independent,” she said.
Honey is receiving training in dressmaking at the Vocational Training Institute (VTI) under the aegis of the Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC). He spends four hours daily at the VTI, Greentown Industrial Area, and is happy since he also gets a stipend of Rs2,000 per month .
“I have learnt more than half of the work and will soon be able to do it independently,” Honey says. The PVTC also provides pick and drop facility to all the transgenders receiving the training in dressmaking at the VTI.
The PVTC pioneered vocational training for transgenders in July with the support of the German Development Agency (GIZ) under its Fund for Innovative Training. As many as 24 transgender are receiving training industrial garments’ stitching. The project is initially launched for two years but the PVTC management hopes that it would be extended. The PVTC set up three state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms for industrial garments’ stitching earlier this year. Besides transgenders, two classes are also held for women.
The PVTC spokesperson says 164 VTIs are working across the province and imparting training to 46,000 people annually. “Besides Lahore, the PVCT is imparting training to transgenders at its VTI at Chunian,” he adds.
Tariq Kaleem, an instructor of dressmaking at the VTI, told TheNation that transgenders were enthusiastic learners and very punctual. “We treat them like women as they like to think about themselves. After the three-month training, now they can stitch.
Next, they will be taught cutting techniques,” he informed. The VTI has also hired a transgender instructor to familiarise them with the atmosphere.
While sharing his feeling and difficulties, a transgender Reema Jan says she would like to do a job after completing the training. “To make ends meet, we dance at private functions and parties, while some of us are also involved in beggary,” she adds.
Reema further says she does not have computerised national identity card (CNIC). “I have visited Nadra office many times, but still could not get my CNIC. Nadra staff says each time that they are not yet making CNIC of transgenders.”
Reema maintains that the government should provide facilities to this marginalised segment of the society. She also complains that the society does not treat transgenders well and and even makes fun of them if they work.
Suneha, another transgender, says she will leave dance functions after completion of the training. “I want to open my boutique at Lakashmi Chowk.” Monika suggests that vocational training for transgenders should be started in all major cities of the country. “The government is not doing anything for us, while the foreigners are helping us by funding projects.”
While sharing her experience of working with transgenders, a woman who is receiving the same training at the VTI says they are kind-hearted. “They are sensitive and care for each other, as well as respect others.”