Lucknow- The transgender community often faces stigma and discrimination based on their gender identity. This can manifest in various settings, including schools, workplaces, and social gatherings. Transgender people may face rejection from family members, friends, or communities due to their gender identity, leading to feelings of isolation and social exclusion. Common aspects of stigma faced by the transgender community include housing and employment. Despite the presence of Garima Grah shelters in nine states across the country, it is unfortunate that Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest transgender population, currently lacks such a facility.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Sudha Tiwari, a transgender based in Lucknow, said, “We don’t get rooms in standard colonies; we get accommodation only in slums.” Keeping these considerations in mind, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has provided for Garima Grah (which translates to dignity home). This scheme works as a component of SMILE (Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood & Enterprise) and provides shelter to transgender persons with basic amenities like food, medical care, and recreational facilities. The scheme states that the government will release the grants at a 40-40-20 ratio (40% at the initial stage, 40% after six months of operation, and 20% at the end of the financial year).
This scheme is operational in various parts of the country. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment initiated 12 Garima Grah homes on a pilot basis in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha in 2021. Any transgender person holding a Transgender certificate & ID card from the National Portal for Transgender persons can avail themselves of this scheme. The transgenders are trained at Garima Grah to equip them with the skills necessary to eke out a living. Nine transgender residents from Raipur in Chhattisgarh were selected for Chhattisgarh Police (Bastar Fighters) in 2022.
The first Garima Grah was established in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri A. Narayanaswamy, in a written reply to Lok Sabha in February 2023, disclosed that a total of 654 transgender persons have benefited from the Garima Grah project.
State Total No of Beneficiaries
Tamil Nadu 55
West Bengal 92
Notably, Uttar Pradesh, the state with the maximum number of transgenders – 1.37 lakhs (2011 census) – does not have even a single Garima Grah.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Shrinivas Dwivedi, Deputy Director at the Social Welfare Department in Lucknow, and handling the transgender unit, said, “The planning for opening Garima Grah in Uttar Pradesh is in the offing. Transgenders above the age of 18 will be provided shelter for a period of one year, and during this period, they will be trained for skill development so that they are able to earn something. We have received applications from NGOs that are keen to work with the government in running these shelter homes, and we are assessing them.” He also mentioned that these shelter homes would be run on rented premises, and a person from the transgender community will be preferred for the appointment of supervisors and caretakers for Garima Greh. Dwivedi refused to comment on the time it would take for the first Garima Greh shelter to come up in Uttar Pradesh.
He further stated that the government has issued orders to accommodate transgenders above the age of 60 in the old age home run by the Social Welfare Departments.