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India's First Salon Owned & Run By Transgender Men Is Revamping Looks And Reforming Lives

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Shweta Sengar
Shweta SengarUpdated on Apr 25, 2022, 19:54 IST
India's First Salon Owned & Run By Transgender Men Is Not Only Changing Looks But Also Lives

Colours of the rainbow flag paint the facade of a salon in the Ghaziabad area of the National Capital Region, near the Dilshad Extension area.

The salon is an extraordinary one in the sea of thousands of high-end salons in Delhi-NCR, and is usually teeming with people.

What makes La Beauté & Style stand out is its origins. The rainbow colours are not just a part of interiors but stand for inclusion and diversity.

Trans activists and celebrities Aryan Pasha and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi launched ‘La Beauté & Style’ in the border area of Delhi on September 11, 2021. It is the only salon owned and run by transgender people.

Salon doors open for everyone

Inside the salon, the wall behind the reception desk is painted in rainbow colours; a mural of a trans man with flowing multicoloured locks decorates another wall.

The owner, Aryan Pasha, 30, is a lawyer, activist and India’s first transgender male bodybuilder

Reflecting upon the journey so far, Pasha tells Indiatimes that the "first couple of months were a little dull but business picked up soon.

India Image Courtesy - Aryan Pasha

"The lockdown was announced again and people were not going out much let alone going to a salon, so it was not the best opening that we had but our clientele is expanding every day. More people are coming now for services because we offer all kinds of services -- from mid-range to high range that suits the budget of all kinds of people." 

He opened the salon to create a space where trans people would feel comfortable requesting beauty treatments. 

"We are a place not just of, by and for transgenders but people of all sexual identities and orientations. Whoever comes to the salon tells us that they are very pleased with the staff and satisfied with the services. We treat everyone like a special client, and we are never in a hurry," says Pasha.  

Everyone is welcome at the salon and it's not restricted to the LGBTQ+ community.

Pasha and his partner Tripathi received financial aid from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids and the Gravittus Foundation, a Pune-based charity that works for social change.

Tripathi has been a transgender activist since 1999, campaigning for numerous causes from HIV to community-led social enterprises.

Gaurav Trust, their charity, focuses on raising awareness and protecting the health and rights of male sex workers and others within the LGBTQ+ community.

A safe space for LGBTQ+ community

The salon is not just a salon. Over time it has become a safe space for people from the LGTBTQ+ community who are facing threats from their own families and people who are still in the closet.

Speaking of one such client, Pasha says that people from the LGBTQ+ community regularly visit the salon. "There is one trans woman who comes from Saket. She is in the early phase of her transition and when she visited our salon for the first time she said that she wants a haircut that suits women. She said that when she visited a salon in Delhi, she was blasted with questions about the choice of her haircut because she does not physically look like a woman yet. That is the kind of treatment trans people face in most parts of the country and we are here to change that."

India Image Courtesy - Aryan Pasha

He says that the salon has transformed into a an inclusive space and not a just a beauty salon. "People some here and sit and talk to us and the staff about their life and journey. 

Recalling an instance, Pasha says a 17-year-old transwoman, ostracised by her family, now regularly comes to the salon.

"She had been under a house arrest and somehow managed to escape by telling her family that she is going for a shave. She had watched a programme about our salon on TV, and came here. Now she is a regular visitor and feels safe here." 

Leading a life of dignity

Transgenders are often not accepted by their families. While the country has a law to protect the rights of transgenders, they are often refused jobs and not accepted by society.

It is difficult for them to get a job, which in most cases, forces them into sex work and begging. According to a National Human Rights Commission study, it was found that about 92 per cent of transgender people are denied the right to participate in the country’s economic activities. Even if some do manage to get a job, they are forced to leave due to a hostile work environment.

India Image Courtesy - Aryan Pasha

At Le Beauté, the staff earn up to 30,000 per month, which not only helps them live a dignified life but also prevents them from falling into distress.

Pasha says that his organisation is training in Pune, where they plan to open their next salon. He plans to go national once more funding comes in.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including unfair treatment or denial of service concerning employment, education, healthcare, access to public goods and facilities, and others. Despite the law, marginalisation and mistreatment of transgenders remain rampant.

Transgender people face enormous health disparities, including staggering rates of HIV infection, lack of primary care (including individualised, medically necessary transition-related healthcare), and high rates of attempted suicide.

For more on news and current affairs from around the world, please visit Indiatimes News.


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