A transgender supports ‘normal’ people's menstrual woes

Tables turned: A transgender supports ‘normal’ people's menstrual woes

Pinkishe Foundation


The Beginning: A Struggle for Identity and Survival

In West Bengal, Sumi Das, a transgender woman, faced a life filled with adversity. Forced to leave home at a tender age, Sumi's journey began at a local railway junction, where survival meant engaging in sex work for mere sustenance. This harsh reality marked the start of an extraordinary journey.

Sumi's Journey: Rising Above and Giving Back

Sumi's life took a significant turn when she connected with West Bengal's hijra community. Here, she found not just acceptance but a purpose. By 2009, her resolve had solidified; she founded the Moitrisanjog Society, a collective aimed at uplifting trans and gender-nonconforming individuals through advocacy for education, employment, and healthcare.

A New Chapter: The Discovery in Posna Danga

Sumi Das's journey led her to Posna Danga Village in Cooch Behar during her work with the Moitrisanjog Society. Her interactions were not just as an outsider, but with a genuine desire to understand and connect with the local people. As she spoke with the women of the village, a common thread of stories began to emerge, painting a picture of their daily struggles.

It was during these heartfelt conversations that Sumi uncovered a distressing truth. A woman named Sunita (name changed), bound by the constraints of limited resources, had no choice but to use old cloth during their menstrual cycles, and shockingly, the same cloth is also shared by other family members. This practice, passed down through generations, was seen as a norm rather than a health risk. The revelation was startling, yet it resonated deeply with Sumi, who understood the challenges of living on the margins of society.

Partnership for Progress: Aligning with Pinkishe Foundation

Determined to address this critical issue, Sumi reached out to Pinkishe Foundation, as she crossed paths with its activities in Cooch Behar. Aware of Pinkishe's impactful padbank program, she saw a potential ally in her mission. With a shared vision for improving menstrual health, Sumi reached out, detailing the challenges faced by the women in Posna Danga.

Pinkishe, understanding the critical nature of the situation, eagerly joined forces with her. This collaboration marked a pivotal moment for the village of Posna Danga. With Pinkishe's backing, Sumi received comprehensive training in menstrual hygiene, equipping her with the knowledge and tools to effectively educate and empower the local women. Pinkishe provided training in menstrual health and hygiene, equipping Sumi to educate and empower the village's women.

The Impact: A Shift Towards Healthier Practices

The collaboration led to significant changes. Sumi, utilizing her training, conducted workshops, slowly dismantling the shroud of silence around menstruation. The distribution of free cloth pads began, offering a sustainable and safe alternative to the women in Posna Danga. Gradually, longstanding limitations gave way to access to required period resources and led to healthier practices.

Conclusion: A Legacy Unfolding

The journey of Sumi Das, a Hijra, in partnership with Pinkishe Foundation, is a profound narrative of defiance and compassion. In a world where transgender individuals are frequently ostracized and misunderstood, Sumi stands as a beacon of hope and change. Her dedication to improving menstrual health in Posna Danga not only challenges societal norms but also redefines the role of transgender individuals in community upliftment. This story is not just about the fight against menstrual taboos; it's a powerful testament to the unexpected ways in which those often labelled as 'outsiders' can become the most impactful agents of change. Through her efforts, Sumi Das is weaving a legacy of empowerment and health in rural Bengal, reshaping perceptions and building a more inclusive future.

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