Smiles of pride and colours of the rainbow adorn this salon in Ghaziabad NCR, near the Dilshad Extension area.
La Beauté & Style stands out amidst thousands of salons. The colours of the rainbow are not just aesthetic choices for decor but stand for inclusion and diversity. It is the only salon owned and exclusively run by transgender people.
Celebrated trans activists and celebrities Aryan Pasha and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi launched ‘La Beauté & Style’ in Delhi on September 11, 2021.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi has been a transgender activist since 1999, campaigning for numerous causes from HIV to community-led social enterprises.
The decoration inside the salon looks like a dreamland for LGBTQIA+ people. The wall behind the reception desk is adorned with rainbow stripes and a mural of a transgender man with flowing multicoloured locks on another wall.
The owner, Aryan Pasha, 30, is a lawyer, celebrity, activist and India’s first transgender male bodybuilder.
Discussing the journey of the salon, Pasha said on Instagram that the salon is a first step in creating job opportunities for trans people. He opened the salon to create a space where trans people could work and also feel comfortable requesting beauty treatments.
We are a place not just of, by and for the 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.
Pasha and his partner Laxmi Tripathi received financial aid from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids and the Gravittus Foundation, a Pune-based charity.
Their charity, Gaurav Trust, focuses on the health protection and rights of male sex workers and people within the LGBTQIA+ community.
People advocate for more queer-friendly safe spaces like the salon. It is a haven for people who face threats, abandonment and mistreatment from their families, even forced to be in the closet. Transgender people often start their transitions with social and visual transitions to reduce gender dysphoria. However, while visiting heteronormative salons, they get blasted with questions and micro aggressions over not “looking” like their gender. Queer-friendly salons are a beautiful step in the right direction.
The staff and customers bond over shared experiences and their lives. People who are ostracised by families find a safe haven at the salon.
Transgender people face difficulty in getting employment and access to equal opportunities through education. Hence, they get forced 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 face hostility in work environments.
At Le Beauté, the staff earn up to ₹30,000 per month, to live a dignified life of peace on their own terms.
Bhanu Rajodiya, a 25-year-old trans man used to work at a garment shop in Delhi and earn Rs. 8000-10,000 a month but lost his job during the pandemic. His family does not support him. “I am really happy to be part of the salon. I will not leave this salon for my entire life. Now I don’t have to pretend who I am not and can work comfortably,” he said.
Aryan said they plan to open more such salons across the country. “We are planning to open more salons like this one by one across India so that we can generate more employment for the community people. It will take time but we will accomplish it.”