• One of the transgender modelling images used on the Mitr Trust fundraising page. (Mitr Trust)
A fundraising campaign for India's first transgender modelling agency hopes to boost morale for the country's gender diverse community.
By
Drew Sheldrick

6 Jan 2016 - 9:16 AM  UPDATED 6 Jan 2016 - 9:16 AM

An Indian LGBTI charity is attempting to establish the country's first transgender modelling agency to boost morale among the transgender population, also known as hijras.

The Mitr Trust, which implements HIV prevention programs for men who have sex with men (MSM) and the transgender/hijra population in West Delhi, has set a target of just over $10,000 AUD on its fundraising page for the agency's first steps.

Head of the Mitr Trust, Rudrani Chettri, said that should the fundraising attempt be successful, the organisation plans to hold an open casting call for transgender people across Delhi to get head shots and fashion advice.

"We want beautiful, talented young [transgender people] to be given a chance as models, to get respectable, mainstream work and show they can do it. We want them to work in fashion, in film and TV, for media both mainstream and independent," Chettri wrote in a statement about the campaign.

"For too long, our community has faced severe restrictions on the kind of work we can do. Transgender people face severe discrimination and prejudice in society, in the workplace and among their families and local communities, and many are restricted to begging or sex work to make a living.

"We want to change this. Our model agency will offer hope and be a symbol for change."

One of the agency's first planned projects will see it team-up with well-known Indian fashion stylist Rishi Raj to produce a postcard campaign featuring transgender models, which will also contain information about the funding crisis affecting the community.

Transgender advocates in India have recently been considering a new rights bill drafted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Representatives of the transgender community in Telangana and other southern Indian states held a consultation in Bangalore on December 30 and have asked for more time to consider the bill.

In April 2014, India’s Supreme Court recognised transgender people as a legal third gender.

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