In our country, there is a significant stigma surrounding the members of the transgender community. In spite of having a rich history boasting of iconic transgender people, they are shunned by their families, denied proper education and a chance to lead a normal life.
TouteStudio founded and run by ex-Amazon employee Samyuktha Vijayan is a strong example of how transgenders if received unconditional support from their family, friends and peers are a pillar of success. 34 year old Samyukhtha Vijayan, hailing from Coimbatore had a well-settled life in the United States working for Amazon. As she recalls, the group of Trans women in her workplace were highly supportive of her endeavours. However after a few years Vijayan decided to return India to help others like her who struggled to fit it without support.
TouteStudio is a Bengaluru based Indian wear fashion boutique that specialises in traditional wedding attire designed by Vijayan herself. The dresses, which are all either silk or cotton based are stitched from scratch by a team of fifteen in-house karigars. Unlike most mainstream boutiques, TouteStudio rents the dresses instead of selling them. “A lot of people spend their money buying clothes for special events and end up either throwing or not wearing them. This creates a huge environmental and fabric waste,” Samyuktha explains her rental decision.
Samyuktha says that nothing would have been possible without the strong support from her parents, who encouraged her to dress up in traditionally feminine costumes during Bharatnatyam dances. In spite of the occasional jabs from her relatives and peers, Samyuktha went on to have a fine academic career and shifting to the US. Her decision to transition medically came up in early 2016. “The most important thing is that I got to see how people from the LQBTQ+ community have an open space to be they are around the world. I wanted to see how I could help in giving back to the society,” she says.