Trans people in Kashmir have long gained acceptance as matchmakers. Now their jobs are in danger.

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05/02/2023

Shabnum Subhan’s house is tucked in the bylanes of Srinagar’s downtown, the most densely populated area of Kashmir’s capital city. In the three-story house, 44-year-old Subhan, who is transgender, is getting ready to visit the house of a prospective groom. While applying kohl in her eyes, she relays how she has been struggling to find work in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Most transgender people like Subhan rely on matchmaking and performing at weddings to earn a living. They are popularly known as menzimyeors (a Kashmiri word for matchmakers). The role of transgender people as matchmakers has ancient roots in the region and likely formed from the absence of other steady jobs. But Subhan tells LGBTQ Nation that the growing popularity of online dating and the mushrooming of local bands has made it difficult for them to earn their living. Now, the trans community in Kashmir is simultaneously fighting a rise in anti-trans discrimination while also dealing with the fact that their income sources are drying up.

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