Qashti in the News!

18 Mar

The fine folks at Time Out Delhi are the first to cover Qashti in the news! Stay tuned for more articles!

TimeOut article

Fresh off the boat

A volunteer at Qashti reveals more about this new organisation for people assigned female at birth.

“In the morning, when I pass the chhola-kulcha guy, he calls me ‘didi’; in the evening when I come back, he says ‘chhole khane hai, bhaiya?’” This was overheard at one of the “matargashti” meetups run by Qashti, Delhi’s newest LBT (lesbian, bisexual, trans) group.

Qashti describes itself as a “feminist collective for and by lesbian, bisexual, FTM trans and genderqueer people who have been assigned female at birth (LBQTGFAB).” The acronyms and political jargon aside, it’s quite simple: people are usually assigned a gender at birth, (“it’s a girl!”) but that doesn’t always match up to the gender that they actually feel they are. At Qashti, anyone who was assumed to be female at birth is welcome, no matter what gender – male, trans, female, butch, genderqueer, femme, androgynous, other, none – they are now. Not coincidentally, there are easier ways of talking about the gender options for people who were assigned male at birth: they might be hijras, kothis, queens, drag queens, as well as being transgender or genderqueer – and there are quite a few groups and spaces that recognise these. It’s much harder to find spaces that are aware of and openly welcoming of the gender options starting on the female end of the spectrum, so Qashti is hoping to remedy that a bit.

In spite of the seriousness with which they take the gender politics, Qashti’s matargashtis are informal, easygoing affairs, something like a support group crossed with a board game house party. Discussion veers easily from which pronouns people want to use for themselves to a recipe for cake, mishti doi, dhokla; to someone’s memory of being caught kissing a girl in the school loo (“we both said ‘sorry ma’am’, I don’t know why!”) to the rules of Uno, all accompanied with chai and chatter. There is no set meeting space; the events so far have been at private houses, public parks, and borrowed organisational spaces. There is no charge for anything, but people are encouraged to bring snacks or, since the collective is non-funded, give donations.

The matargashti meetups are fun and badly needed, but people often also have serious troubles that they don’t want to talk about openly in front of a group. So over the course of the year, Qashti also plans to start a helpline for LBQTGFAB people and  their issues. It will run for two days a week, and will be staffed by volunteers trained in feminist principles and counselling techniques. As well as providing counselling, they will act as a resource centre, giving references to services that people might need, like queer-friendly doctors, lawyers, psychologists, other support groups, meeting spaces and so on.

The helpline will start in June 2013, and will involve outreach to as many different types of people and organisations as possible, across classes. In addition to LBT organizations, Qashti plans to reach out to women’s groups, NGOs working in bastis, and to a wider audience via print media, pamphlets and stickers in public places with contact information. There is such a need for support and resources for LBQTGFAB that it is very hard to rein in the wish to do everything, and just try to do a few things well. Ideally, there would be many more such spaces, helplines, shelters and resource guides!

Correction

Qashti ki Matargashti is next on Sunday, March 31st. The date has been changed from the 24th because too many people are out of town for the holidays around Holi and Good Friday. 

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2 Responses to “Qashti in the News!”

  1. tlk June 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    you were mentioned on the BBC site today……… Also in Delhi, a new helpline has been launched for lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people to help them discuss their issues more openly, reports The Hindu.

    “Launched earlier this month by feminist non-profit organisation Qashti, the helpline seeks to address queries on sexuality, orientation as well as make interventions wherever required,” the paper adds.

    • qashtilbtindia June 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

      Wow! We knew about the Hindu article, but thanks for letting us know about the BBC mention!

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