Tag Archives: qashti

Mission Statement

14 Aug

What is Qashti?

Qashti is a queer and feminist collective of lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex/intergender (LBTQI) people assigned female at birth. Through organizing a wide variety of social events and running an LBTQI-focussed helpline we work to build an intentional social space and resource center for LBTQI people. Qashti was founded in 2011 and is based in New Delhi.  


Qashti is an intersectional feminist social space and resource center for lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex/intergender (LBTQI) people assigned female at birth. We are a collective of LBTQI people that bring attention to the specific complexities of LBTQI life in India. We seek to create an alternative platform to rights-based activism, in order to make room for LBTQI community-building, wellness and play. As a group, we aim to enact a feminism that learns from other social justice movements such as anti-caste movements, trans- and sex workers’ movements, in India and globally. We seek to serve our LBTQI communities reflectively and responsibly.

Guiding Principles

As a collective, Qashti’s work is guided by certain principles through which we link our activities and vision to larger questions of social and economic justice:

  • Collective functioning. Qashti is dedicated to collective action and decision-making. This is with the awareness that LBTQI people have not historically had, and do not currently have, access to institutional spaces. We work as a collective and share our resources in order to enhance the sustainability and self-sufficiency of LBTQI communities.
  • Queer and feminist practice. We recognize the urgent need for an intersectional queer and feminist practice that challenges patriarchy and the multiple ways it affects us as LBTQI people in India. However, we are also mindful of feminism’s and the queer movement’s own entanglements with nationalism and caste, class and gender hierarchies. Hence, we seek to further discussions on and create LBTQI spaces that cut across these differences. To this end, we aspire to make meaningful connections with other social justice movements (specifically the Dalit, trans, and sex workers’ movements), and hold ourselves and our work accountable to their critical perspectives.
  • LBTQI. Qashti is a space dedicated to lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and queer people assigned female at birth. While we recognize that not all trans* people identify as female-born, we use that term to indicate that we exist as a source of support for those people who were/are seen and socialized as female. We aim to address the unique issues faced by such people both in larger society and in the national LGBT movement. The legal battle for decriminalization of homosexuality, as well as the NGO funding to combat AIDS in India, have led to a focus on gay male or MTF lives. Qashti sees the need to create a space for the people who were not historically granted access to these resources, but who face their own considerable battles with misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.

    To be clear – At this point, Qashti’s membership only includes people assigned female at birth, but we are committed to fighting misogyny and gender-based discrimination across identities. Thus we seek to be supportive allies to the empowerment of transwomen, MTFs, genderqueer, hijra and kothi communities in India and globally.

  • Funding. So far, Qashti has been supported financially by the LBTQI community we are a part of. We use funds for our events and meetings and to operate our volunteer-run helpline. We are committed to remaining independent, non-corporate and non-politically funded, so that we can make the needs of our community, and not the needs of our funders, our only priority.
  • Sex-positive. In the current context of increased government censorship, we are committed to creating a judgment-free space that celebrates LBTQI sexualities. We are a sex-positive group that supports everyone’s right to access, practice and speak about their bodies, sex and desires. We understand that LBTQI sexual liberation is tied up with the liberation of other criminalized groups. We stand in support of sex-workers’ rights to live without stigma and violence, and to work for fair pay.

Qashti uses these principles as touchstones to guide our decisions about what causes and activities we put our efforts towards. We aim to work with and learn from others who share our commitment to these principles.


Fundraising Party! Get your tickets now!

16 May


Shake a leg at Qashti’s first party and fundraiser,

THIS SATURDAY! 18th May! Two days away!

To buy tickets and get the venue details, please call us at 9711282307 by 16th May.  Suggested ticket price: Rs 150 (less is ok, more is awesome!)

Please email us at qashtilbt@gmail.com or contact us on http://www.facebook.com/qashti.lbt if you would like to donate, participate or support us in any way.

Fundraising and PARTY!!

5 May

Greetings from Qashti! Over the last few months we’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of you at our bi-monthly Matargashti meetings and sharing some wonderful conversations and fun times! We have great plans for the coming months: more Matargashtis and fun events, of course but also setting up and starting our helpline for LBQTGFAB people. Here is where you come in: to print brochures and stickers about Qashti, run the helpline and organize our bi-monthly events, we need your help and support!  The eight core members of Qashti each give Rs 100 every month towards these. We also received Rs 1300 from donations at the last Matargashti/ We would love your help in meeting our expenses too – no donation is too small!

We have a list of our expenses for the future – both immediate expenses that we absolutely need to function, and longer-term expenses:

Immediate Expenses (May 2013 onwards)
Type of Expense Item Cost details Amount (INR)
Publicity Brochure printing costs 2000 copies in colour 7500
  Stickers with helpline numbers printing costs 2000 stickers 10000
Outreach — meetings with other organisations working in the community travel expenses mainly, possible booking of a hall/venue for meetings Rs 500 each for 8 people X 5 organisations 20000
Events food, plates, glasses, etc Rs 200 per matargashti (24 events in 12 months) 4800
Helpline Initial phone expenses Rs 250 per SIM card x 2 500
  Initial internet expenses Rs 3000 for a dongle 3000
  Ongoing phone bills approx Rs 500 per month for 12 months 6000
  Ongoing internet bills approx Rs 1000 per month for 12 months 12000
Documentation Stationery ((files, folders, pens, notebooks, binder clips, pen drives)   5000
  Total   68800
Long-term Expenses (2013-2014)
Item Details Units Cost/Unit Total cost (INR)
Space for the helpline and drop-in centre One time brokerage cost 1 6000 6000
Monthly rent for the space 12 6000 72000
Electricity and water cost 12 2,000 24000
Kitchen expenses Refrigerator, hot plate and heater   6000 0
Kitchen utensils
(plates, glasses and cutlery)
  1000 1000
Furniture Air cooler 1 5000 5000
Bean bags, tables, mattress and chairs   5000 5000
Resource pmaterial Books and movies for reference 1 8000 8000
Total       121000

To kick things off, we are having a fundraising party on Saturday 18th May. To buy tickets and get the venue details, please call us at 9711282307 by 16th May.  Suggested ticket price: Rs 150 (less is ok, more is awesome). 

Please email us at qashtilbt@gmail.com or contact us on http://www.facebook.com/qashti.lbt if you would like to donate, participate or support us in any way.

Also, we are trying to set up an office space for Qashti to function from, so any usable office stuff like computers, printers, office furniture that you can donate will be very useful. We are happy to come by and collect it from you if you like.

Thank you so much your time and generosity,


The Qashti Team

This Saturday! Breaking the Binary with LABIA

2 May

A few years ago, several of us in Qashti heard about a study being done by LABIA, based on interviews and conversations sharing life histories with LBTGQFAB people from all over India. We’ve been eager and excited to hear about the results of these conversations for ages, and now we finally get to! LABIA will be coming to Delhi this Saturday to share their findings, carry on the discussions and answer all our questions about the study! And the icing on the cake is that we at Qashti are co-hosting the event along with Saheli — we couldn’t be more delighted! So please come, bring friends and families, enjoy some refreshing cool drinks and hear all about Breaking the Binary! Over to LABIA:


BREAKING THE BINARY: Understanding concerns and realities of queer persons assigned gender female at birth across a spectrum of lived gender identities

Saturday 4th May 2013
3:00 to 7:00 pm
at The Attic, 1st Floor, 36 Regal Building, Outer Circle, Connaught Place
(directions: in the same lane as People Tree, Kwality Restaurant etc. Nearest Metro: Rajiv Chowk)

In 2009-2010, LABIA initiated a research study based on 50 life history narratives of queer PAGFB (persons assigned gender female at birth), and aided by discussions with queer LBT and trans* groups. 11 of us (many of us members of LABIA) did the interviews, transcripts and initial analysis, and 4 of us have been doing the further analysis and writing.

Key findings have been presented at different conferences and some of the data has been published. Now we bring you the full report. Through this study, we explore the circumstances and situations of queer PAGFB who are made to, or expected to, fit into society’s norms around gender and sexuality. We look at their experiences with natal families and in school; we chart their journey through intimate relationships and jobs; we attempt to understand what happens to them in public spaces, and how they are treated by various state agencies; we discover where they seek and find support, community, and a refuge from the violence and discrimination that mark far too many lives.

Most significantly, this research has given us new insights into gender itself, which we feel are crucial additions to the current discourse in both queer and feminist spaces. Finally, the study flags areas of particular concern, and highlights some necessary interventions.

We ourselves are amazed at the richness and complexity of our findings and are impelled by the need to share these as widely as possible with all queer and feminist groups and individuals, activists and academics, all people working specifically with LBT persons as well as broadly in the areas of gender and sexuality — and of course all of us who are interested in knowing more about our selves.

So do join us for an intense, engaging, stimulating afternoon of presentations in English and Hindi, with time for questions and discussion (and most certainly for tea and snacks).

Chayanika, Raj, Shalini, Smriti from LABIA – a queer feminist LBT collective

(With Saheli and Qashti LBT)

let’s have a poll!

2 Apr

What would YOU like to see in Qashti ki Matargashtis?

Fill out our poll below, give your ideas in comments, and share with your friends!

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!


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. 


20 Feb

Qashti is a feminist non-profit, non-funded collective for and by lesbian, bisexual, FTM trans and genderqueer people who have been assigned female at birth (LBQTGFAB). This group was formed by a group of friends and aims at providing a safe space for LBQTGFAB across socio-economic classes in the Delhi/NCR area.

Twice a month, Qashti hosts informal events where people can meet, share stories, watch movies, discuss issues or just have fun. We meet regularly on the first and third Saturday/Sunday of each month to accommodate those who may have family or/and work commitments on weekends.

Qashti will also run a helpline for LBQTGFAB with counsellors trained in feminist principles of counselling. This helpline will be launched in June 2013.

We’d love to hear from you, network with you and be included in your events, so please email us at qashti.lbt@gmail.com. You can also reach us on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/qashti.lbt Hope to hear from you soon!