BDS Samabhabona was launched in 2012, by a team of trans and queer activists, comprised of Dalit and working class persons, including those who are sex workers and migrant workers. With a background and emphasis on intersectional politics and public sensitization, Samabhabona has strong advocacy roots in facilitating access to rights such as healthcare and in sensitizing decision makers and policymakers to the realities of trans and queer lives. They provide livelihood, peer, physical & mental health support, leadership training, and art therapy sessions, to persons from trans and queer communities. One of their advocacy wins during the COVID pandemic was successfully advocating for COVID vaccinations for the trans community to the Women and Child Welfare Minister in the West Bengal State Government.
The organization works across the following areas: (a) Community Advocacy: It conducts community awareness campaigns around the legal rights and entitlements of trans people, this is from a trans feminist and intersectional point of view. (b) Sensitization Programs: Samabhabona also works to sensitize the general public and specific institutions, such as the police and educational institutions, on trans and queer rights and the particular concerns faced by the LGBTQI+ community. The aim of these sensitization programs is to create safe spaces for members of the trans community. (c) Trans worker rights: Samabhabona is working on bringing together trans workers on a united platform to speak against worker violations. This platform particularly takes up the issue of safety and police brutality faced by sex workers and demands safer environments for them to work in. (d) Art activism: The organization uses art to provide trans people with an outlet to express themselves and their trauma. They believe that art is an effective medium to engage in dialogue within and outside the community and a tool for trans people to reclaim their narratives.
Project with MHI
BDS Samabhabona is partnering with MHI to create a community-based drop-in centre to support around 150 trans and queer persons with mental health support, and crisis intervention. This is in tune with Samabhabona’s intersectoral view of mental health that one must have access to basic rights, safety, and freedom from violence to have good mental health. This project will particularly support elderly and homeless trans persons and serve as a base for community activities such as workshops on legal rights, consultations on the wellbeing needs of trans sex workers, group mental health sessions, meetings with trans labour unions, leadership training, livelihoods support and art-based therapy.
To learn more about BDS Samabhabona, click here.