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India’s Second Trans Kitchen That Creates Livelihood For The Marginalized Transgender Community Launched

September 30, 2021

Jayutran*, a transwoman from Madurai, had been a caterer for many small-scale functions and social gatherings for the past nine years. The pandemic gravely affected her business as well as that of her community. She, like many other trans persons, lost her only source of income. When she heard of the pioneering trans-kitchen run by the transgender community in Coimbatore, she realized that’s exactly what is needed in her city as well. She reached out to Swasti, the #COVIDActionCollab (CAC) partner who had supported establishing the Coimbatore joint.    She was not the only one. Given the demand, Madurai opened India’s second trans kitchen, running its own restaurant. This powerful initiative was brought to life by the collaboration of CAC partners, Vrutti, Arghyam, Swasti, SELCO Foundation, and Sri Lakshmi Pengal Munnetra Sangam (SLPMS), a community-based organization (CBO) working with the transgender community in Madurai. On 17th September 2021, the kitchen opened its doors to customers, serving 3 meals a day.  SELCO foundation solar-powered this kitchen that employs 12 transwomen to make it more financially viable and environmentally sustainable.  After the launch of the first trans-kitchen in September 2020, Swasti received requests from many #CAC partners to set up similar food businesses in their respective areas. Many trans people like Jayutran have been keen on cooking and baking, which helped in fighting the stigma in the community. The local communities in many parts of Tamil Nadu consider it auspicious to partake in food made and served by trans persons, especially during festive days, a norm that has only fueled the livelihoods of an otherwise ostracized group. The local community tries to practice this particularly during festive days or other special occasions.  One of the most affected communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has been the transgender community, many of whom lost their daily wages to the pandemic, and have been unable to fend for themselves. The initiative has been a wonderful move-in creating sustained livelihoods for trans persons but has also had a significant impact on the attitudes and treatment of locals towards the transgender community. This vulnerable group, through this collaborative initiative, not only has dignified labor but also support from organizations that are working towards long-lasting change. 
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