Creating safe spaces for the transgender community | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:31 PM, July 21, 2020

Creating safe spaces for the transgender community

ForUs is a social welfare organisation that works for the basic rights of transgender individuals. Founded by Sabrina Mojib, a student of Daffodil International University (DIU), the organisation strives to combat the social barriers that isolate this community. Their team aims to create safe spaces for transgender people, by providing them with respectable jobs. They are currently training a group of transgender people to be security guards in various institutions. "We chose security service as it would allow them to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, and also empower them," shared Sabrina.

The need for creating such a platform was fueled when Sabrina's friend was harassed by a group of transgender people. "Initially, they demanded money but when he refused, they started to abuse him physically. He finally gave them the money, out of embarrassment," explained Sabrina. "I witnessed everything, and began to wonder whether that was begging or extortion." In an attempt to help these people, Sabrina knew she had to equip them with necessary life skills.

"Transgender people are ordinary individuals who deal with the struggles of rejection, discrimination, violence, and homelessness," added Kamrul Islam, a student of BUP and the CMO of ForUs.

Nonetheless, the team had to overcome many hurdles before interacting with the transgender community. "Most of them were not willing to leave their jobs, and we were threatened by some leaders of the community," shared Nahid Arman, Advisor, ForUs. "Convincing them to work with us was difficult."

Towfique Ahmed, a student of DIU and the Head of HR of ForUS, explained that most transgender people do not easily trust others, and they are extremely protective of their identities. "Aliya Noor, a transgender woman, helped us to get in contact with the community," he added.

The team regards their journey to be a great learning experience. "Today, transgender people welcome us when they hear that we want to work for their rights, and they are genuinely eager to learn new skills," shared Tanvir Al Farabi, a student of University of Dhaka and the CFO of ForUs.  

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation distributed groceries to over 50 transgender people. The distribution took place at areas like Akbarshah, Boddar Haat and Hali Sohor of Chittagong. Currently, they are working to sustain the livelihoods of eight transgender individuals, by providing them with monetary support. ForUs is also participating in the Social Business Creation global competition, organised by HEC Montreal in Canada. The fifth edition of the event will be hosted by DIU. Their future plans include creating employment opportunities for 2,000 transgender people, by training them for professional security service in commercial and residential areas.

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