TW: sexual harassment, transphobia
“Transgender woman from Bihar is reaching new heights and encourages others to do so as well”– India.com
The absolute joy and pride I felt upon reading this headline cannot be expressed in words. To see a trans person thrive in a country like India, was pure bliss.
This is the story of Urooz Hussain, a transgender woman who owns a beautiful café in Noida, one that functions on inclusivity.
Apart from being a café owner, 27-year-old Urooz defines herself as a social worker and an entrepreneur. She is also a co-founder of ‘I Love Noida,’ which is the first selfie point in Delhi-NCR and Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, she helped sex workers and their children during the nationwide lockdown.
Even though she was born in the body of a boy, she always had feelings of a girl, said Urooz. She started questioning her identity in her teens. She faced a lot of bullying from her male relatives and a lack of support from her father. So, in 2013, she left her hometown, moved to Delhi, and started her journey as a trans woman.
“People always think all transgenders just beg, clap and are sex workers. But this is far from truth.”
About the café:
You can find Urooz’s café, “Street Temptation,” in Sector 119 in Noida. It serves Indian as well as Chinese cuisine. Urooz started the café to have control, where she could create a queer-friendly environment and extend safe spaces for people to simply exist without society questioning their identity every second of their lives. Something that Urooz was devoid of. In interviews, she revealed that she was subjected to sexual harassment and degradation at her workplace, which led to severe demoralization and self-isolation. To combat this, she created a workspace that would be free of such disgusting and vile acts.
“The café is harassment-free for all genders, they don’t have to face what I have been through.”
Queer icons like Urooz give others hope. They could be a scared child questioning their identity or a closeted gay teen or a bi-curious adult. Irrespective of where the person is on the spectrum, reading such successful stories of trans people, and of other LGBTTQQIAAP+ folx, sends a message of hope, inspiration and happiness. It also lets people know that even though times seem bleak and the world may be suffocating, the sun will always shine. There will always be those who will accept you, support you, and cheer you on as you conquer life. Your time will come and just like Urooz, you too will find your happy place.
Straight and/or cisgender people reading this, your responsibility is to make good use of your privilege and platform and not only amplify the voices of queer entrepreneurs, artists, and workers, but also to pass the mic to them and let them raise their voices and demand what’s rightfully theirs. You also need to actively seek queer-friendly guidelines and put them in place, call out bigotry and queerphobia, give trans people and other queer folx employment, and read up on the spectrum and how nuanced it is.
The future is queer, it’s intersectional. It’s businesses, art, and fashion owned by queer individuals. It’s abundant queer representation in video games and TV, it’s being able to detach yourself from labels and live freely.
Most importantly, it’s having enough safe spaces for everyone.
“I hope future generations feel inspired by people like me and I ensure that any transperson who needs a job can work at my restaurant, they will not face harassment here and can work freely and happily.
I would also like to request parents to educate their children against discrimination of those who do not fit into the male-female binary. If your child identifies as trans, support them so that they don’t go on the wrong path. If you will support transgenders, they will come out of the closet more easily. We are the same as you, like any other human being.”– Urooz Hussain