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Dhaka Tribune

TRANSport, a new hope for transgender community

The start-up delivery service company has been opened by four friends with a target to help the transgender community

Update : 18 Dec 2020, 03:17 PM

Reyadi Shams Riya, a 29-year-old transgender woman, completed her MBA under National University eight years ago.

She failed to get an opportunity to utilize her degree because of her identity, until recently, when she was offered a job at an app-based delivery service company called TRANSport, which is dedicated to the transgender community.

The delivery service will be launched on January 15 next.

Shams said: "After college life I moved away from my family and joined the Hijra community. Since then, I have been earning money by dancing at wedding programs and various events. One of our sources of income is collection [collecting money from roadside shops]."

"Until the high school period, I myself did not know that I was different from other children. People used to tell me I am like a girl. When I got into college, I found someone like me who understood who we are," she said.

Also read: Transgender woman to contest municipal election in Netrokona

Shams' elder sister got married earlier, but, her elder brother's marriage was broken off because she was a transgender person.

People were scared that if her elder brother got married and his children were also transgender, no one would respect them in society.

At that time, family members began to physically torture her for these reasons. In 2006, she left her home and started a new life with a "Guru Maa" (Hijra leader).

Shams said: "My community has accepted me, and living there I have finished my MBA studies. I always wanted to do an honourable job. There is a culture in our community and I am trying my best to get out of it through my studies."

For the last two weeks, she along with four other transgender people has been receiving training for the delivery service company.

The faces behind the initiative

Four young entrepreneurs and friends Fateen Farhan, 18, Tihan Raihan Ishmam, 18, Rahmatullah Moon, 18, and Mahadi Rafee, 20, started TRANSport aiming to help the transgender community.

TransEnd, a nonprofit organization for the transgender community, is also providing training support.

One of the founders Fateen Farhan told Dhaka Tribune: "We are all new entrepreneurs waiting for the university admission test this year.

"We would feel bad whenever we would see people from the transgender community collecting money on the streets. This is our initiative so that they can get out of this work and do other things. We each have our own savings, and with some financing from the family we are starting the company."

Lamea Tanjin Tanha, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of TransEnd, said: "We are initially providing training to five transgender people. Here, they are getting training on cycling as well as receiving psychological training to learn how to communicate with clients."

Also read: 'Legal gender recognition has to be ensured for all diverse gender identities'

She said: "Since their life is confined to their own society, they lack some etiquettes which are necessary to deal with other people."

Transgender Nurtaj Toma, 27, said: "There is no respect in the work of collection. Of course, we want dignity, not only money. Usually, we earn Tk20,000-30,000 a month by collection, but we agreed to get Tk15,000 by working for the delivery service company because we are aspiring to get respect here.

"I am very optimistic about this work. Now I am just waiting to see the reactions of people when they will find the delivery person is neither a man nor a woman but a transgender."

TRANSport is being launched in three zones of Dhaka from January 15.

Initially, the company will provide services in the zone that includes Malibagh, Baily Road, and Khilgaon areas. Two other zones -- Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur -- will be included in phases.

The delivery services will begin on the app from March. Until then, the services will be provided through their official Facebook page.

The entrepreneurs said at the moment they are starting activities through B2B (business to business) service. TRANSport will sign contracts with 10 online shops next week for the delivery service.

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