Mumbai, Apr 1 (IANS): The US Consulate in Mumbai and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have launched a new salon, 'TransFormation', which is owned and operated by members of the transgender community at Kalyan town in Thane, an official said here on Friday.
The occasion was the International Transgender Day of Visibility, and the TransFormation salon is expected to support enhanced career opportunities for the deprived transgender community.
The salon was inaugurated by US Consul-General in Mumbai, Mike Hankey, and USAID Deputy Mission Director, Karen Klimowski, and will offer its services in an inclusive and stigma-free ambience.
"We are proud to support the TransFormation Salon where anyone, regardless of how they identify themselves, can access its services in a safe and inclusive environment. We recognise the contributions of transgender, nonbinary and gender non-forming people. We take pride in supporting improved health outcomes through innovative models that mobilise communities to take charge of their financial and physical health," said Hankey.
Klimowski said that as per the USAID's guiding principle, 'Do nothing about them without them', the transgender community was directly involved in designing and establishing the salon.
"It will not only serve the community, but also enhance career and entrepreneurship opportunities for the local transgenders in a locally-led and inclusive development," said Klimowski.
Neeta Kene, chairperson of the NGO 'Kinnar Asmita', which is running the establishment, said that it sends out a strong message to the society that transgenders with the right kind of skilling and support can effectively mainstream themselves.
"For us, this is not only an initiative on livelihoods, it is on dignity, self-worth, and progress. We are thrilled to start this venture and we need the support of the mainstream to make it a roaring success, both socially and financially," Kene urged.
This is the second salon of its kind in Maharashtra. The first one by the same name and funded by Deutsche Bank and Rotary Club of Mumbai was launched on March 25 at Prabhadevi in Mumbai, followed by Kalyan on Friday, Kene said.
"There are around six professionally-trained staff now and we will cater to all beauty requirements of transgenders and women customers. If we are successful, we plan to open more similar salons in the state by the year-end," Kene told IANS after the inauguration.
Kene added that the USAID has provided the entire funding of around Rs 3.20 million for infrastructure, salaries and other costs, excluding the rent for the premises in Kalyan.
The TransFormation Salon was set up with support from the USAID and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in partnership with FHI 360 and the Humsafar Trust.