Starbucks India recently caused controversy with an advertisement that showed Sia, a transgender model, as Arpita, who meets her parents at a Starbucks store. The transsexual woman identified herself in the commercial as Arpita rather than by her biological name, Arpit.
Near the end of the advertisement, her parents finally accept her for who she is after first showing clear reluctance. Netizens have been keenly following Starbucks India's pro-trans-inclusivity campaign with the hashtag "#ItStartsWithYourName" since it was revealed a week ago.
Even if there are differing views on the subject, over the past 15 months Mumbai has witnessed the opening of at least two cafes that embody inclusivity and serve as spaces where everyone may feel safe from prejudices and judgements.
The Trans Cafe (TTC), which opened in August 2022, has drawn attention as Mumbai's first cafe run by a trans lady named Zainab Patel. This innovative cafe, which is located in Andheri (West), touts a supply chain made up solely of suppliers and servers from the Trans or Queer community. TTC prioritises the utmost respect for its patrons as part of its commitment to provide delectable and clean meals.
TTC first opened as a standard cafe, but it rapidly realised the distinct demands of the neighbourhood, which was mostly made up of labourers who desired inexpensive, home-cooked meals. Mohini Patel, a trans-woman who works as a manager at TTC quoted, “We initially started as a normal cafe but after learning more about this locality, we understood that the locals here were mostly labourers who craved a home-cooked meal at an affordable price. From then on, we started serving only veg thali at ₹60.”
The landlord was hesitant to rent the property because of his prejudices towards the transgender community and lack of business expertise. But eventually, the cafe was opened with help from the Rotary Club of Mumbai Queens Necklace.
Seven transgender people have gained service and cooking skills and are currently employed. Mohini Patel currently plans to construct 15 additional cafés in India that are comparable.
The other is Bambai Nazariya, a charming Iranian-style coffeehouse that has hired members of the transgender community to work. Diego Miranda founded Nazariya in January 2022 to create a "community" of people, particularly those who come from marginalised communities in society.
The cafe has been Miranda's ideal ambition since he first had an idea for it eight years prior. Miranda credits his mother with teaching him the importance of hospitality: "The one learning that I have carried with me for years is if the food doesn’t discriminate, why should we?" he asks.
Miranda has collaborated extensively with the Humsafar Trust, a non-governmental organisation that supports Mumbai's queer population, to help him with the employment process. Two people who were receiving treatment for autism were recently given jobs at the cafe thanks to a partnership between the establishment and JinShiksha, a training facility for people with special needs.
The owners of the cafés expressed their support for the most recent Starbucks advertising in India, emphasising the value of advocating for and upholding inclusivity in society.
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