The COVID-19 pandemic has severely hit the marginalised community particularly the transgender community.
While the coronavirus-induced lockdown negatively impacted their source of income as they depend largely on begging on public places and performing on ceremonies, this period entailing financial challenges has also led to a group of transwomen in Coimbatore to start their own business for a dignified living.
The group consisting of ten transwomen who were specialist in making dum biryani used the lockdown period to work on their cooking skills and with support from NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) launched the 'Covai Trans Kitchen'.
"We made a living from cooking biriyani at weddings. The pandemic claimed our work," Sangeetha, president of the Coimbatore District Transgenders Welfare Association, told The New Indian Express.
"During the lockdown, we survived on the assistance and rations provided by the State government," she added. She also mentioned that several donors helped them tide over the crisis.
However, the group wanted a long-term solution to end their livelihood concern and realised that it was having their own business which could make them self-reliant with consistent revenues.
Covai Trans Kitchen equipped with 32 seats on the Venkataswamy Road is entirely run and managed by the transwomen. They handle every aspect related to the restaurant which involves cooking, taking orders, serving and billing.
These transwomen have been through a 20-day-training programme which was offered free of cost by a city college and it has helped them learn new recipes.
"We know the pulse of Coimbatoreans: they love our biriyani. But now we can also offer cookies, pastries, North Indian and Chinese dishes alongside our signature biriyani," said 50-year-old Lakshmi.