CHENNAI: Every time 27-year-old transgender Priyanka of Kattupakkam near Porur came home with the meagre amount she earned through sex work, she spent it with much guilt. Today she is an entrepreneur selling self-made glass paintings, candles, bags and pouches. “I felt bad when I spent the money I earned in sex work. It was like we either did sex work or went begging,” she recalled.
But things began to change three years back when she was offered help by the NGO Sahodaran. “I got a sewing machine with which I tried stitching a simple cloth bag. Then I learnt to make candles. Later a gay man offered to teach me glass painting,” Priyanka said. Today, with 30 members in her group and a lot of support from the public, Priyanka and her group are going places. She is also helping transgenders in Mumbai by marketing their handmade skirts made of poplin.
“People encourage me so much. They recognise me. I want to live like a girl and especially after the sex change operation I had I never wanted go for sex work. Today even if I earn one rupee, I am much happier than before,” said a smiling Priyanka. Her previous experience at the airport, welcoming arriving guests, has only furthered her customer-friendly approach.