Published: 31st May 2018
These Kovai students have a food truck run by transgenders and it is serving awesomeness!
The menu was curated and is cooked and served by three transwomen - and Coimbatore's urban young are loving it
In 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognised transgenders as the third gender thus urging the government to create quotas for them in jobs, universities and various other sectors. However, even after the ruling, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being a trans person in our country. The understanding that the only way to change the mindset of people and make the country more inclusive is what led the students of Kumaraguru College of Technology (KCT), Coimbatore to start a food truck operated by transgenders.
Named ‘Trans Pride', the food truck is being run by three trans women - Suchitra, an Indian cuisine expert, Taslima Nasreen, a social activist, who has loved cooking since childhood, and Yamini. "We came up with this idea because we really wanted to do something to help the transgender community and serve as an example for transgenders around the world," says Aakash Selvan, a final year student at KCT, who was a part of the initiative.
Of being inclusive: The food truck launched by students is run by 3 trans women
The idea of the food truck was born during KCT's Yugam, a techno-cultural-sports fest. "A lot of people have asked us why we had a social campaign for a techno-cultural sports fest. But we wanted the fest to give out a certain amount of positivity," says Aakash. "We wanted initially to start a café which will be completely taken up and run by transgenders but then the idea materialised into a food truck because we thought we can do it pan India - it can travel to a lot of cities, institutions etc," he added.
But how did they find their core staff and train them? That's a story by itself. He added "Rehabilitating the transgenders was our biggest problem. It is where an NGO called Small Differences came in. They helped train these three transwomen as a part of the food truck."
What's on the menu?
The food truck serves food ranging from sandwiches and wraps to biriyani and pizza. In order to buy food from the truck, people will have to interact with the people operating them, which was the primary target of the students from KCT. They hope that this act of conversing with the transwomen might make people less inclined to stigmatise them and thus be more inclusive and consider them as one of their own. "We wanted to make sure that the general public understands that they are a part of the world like everyone else. And it turned out to be great. Everyone loved the idea. There was no discrimination. And we chose food because it's the most neutral thing," explains Aakash.
The three transwomen operating the truck said they loved the experience because they are or have been cooking for a lot of people. "We generally love cooking and cooking for people made us even happier. This, in fact, has been one of the best experiences in my life," said Taslima. "All three of them suggested new dishes, made a lot of changes to our ideas to the best," adds Aakash.
Yum yum: The food truck serves food ranging from sandwiches and wraps to biriyani and pizza
Thank you for the love, Coimbatore!
The students were surprised that the initiative has been met with positivity, "People loved it because it was a different experience for them as a food truck and getting served by transgenders," says Aakash. "So we were a little scared that people might not want to come up and interact with them, but it was actually the opposite. We also did not station the food truck in public places but mostly did it in institutions and near tech parks, but most of them wanted to try it out and they were more than satisfied," Aakash proudly adds.
The Rotary Club of Coimbatore (Coimbatore Central) is supporting the initiative. "It was entirely sponsored by them and they believed in the idea as much as us. Without them, this project wouldn't have been possible," says Aakash. This truck is on a trial run before trying to become a completely commercial venture.
"Buying a food truck and making it suitable for us was very expensive so we rented one for the time being. We wanted to see how it goes and then do a full-fledged one. We are also looking for more sponsors who will invest in/sponsor the project," adds Aakash.