At the Patel Nagar Market Junction in Tondiarpet, Kanniamma and Muniamma narrate their experience about COVID-19 loudly. A few people gather and listen keenly, from a safe distance, to the narrative that highlights the importance of wearing masks and washing hands.
A little later, people realize that this is a COVID-19 awareness programme, using the story-narration genre, staged by members of the transgender community.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has roped in many NGOs to carry out Community Intervention Programmes across the city. Among them are NGOs such as Thozhi and Sahodaran that work for the transgender community.
“For the past one month, 15 of our members have been going door to door to raise awareness about COVID-19 in North Chennai. We also collect details about symptoms and co-ordinate with Corporation officials for testing,” said S. Sudha from Thozhi.
On Tuesday, the transgender persons used story-telling as a medium to create awareness. “Two characters, Kanniamma and Muniamma, played by transgender persons, stand on the road and narrate how COVID-19 affects people. They advise other transgender actors to wear masks and wash their hands,” said A. Jaya, general manager of the NGO Sahodaran. People stop to watch the play, she said. “However, we ensure that physical distancing norms are followed. Such methods have a good impact rather than just advising people,” she added.
The transgender persons volunteering are also planning to conduct a fashion show, a placard march and a bike rally to create awareness in the coming days.
Members of the transgender community said that initially people were not very cordial with them when they went door to door to create awareness and collect data. “As days passed, they realized we are concerned about their health and have been treating us like their family members. Such initiatives also help in removing stigma against the transgender community,” added Ms. Jaya.