Sanjeeva Vandse is 45-year-old HIV-positive transgender activist and entrepreneur.
This month, Vandse launched Asare Fast Food in the city of Udupi on India’s west coast. It will be run by at least one transgender Indian and some profits will go to feeding and educating local children living with HIV.
‘It has been a long and difficult journey towards opening the fast food joint’ Vandse told the Bangalore Mirror. ‘I ran from pillar to post to make this happen’.
The activist pushed the Deputy Commissioner’s Office to make a special exception after authorities only granted permission for a joint in a quiet part of town.
Vandse took out a $1,400 loan and also received nearly $300 from the Department of Women and Child Welfare.
The 45-year-old has been fighting for the rights of transgender and HIV-positive Indians for years.
The activist set up the Asare Trust to support local people living with HIV. It is headed by a local social worker.
Currently, Asare Fast Food serves up idli vada, buns, puri, pulav, ghee rice, kebabs, pakoras, and bandas. If the joint is allowed a power connection, Vandse hopes to offer cold drinks and noodles.
‘We are hoping that the business will stabilize and hopefully have many more outlets by those in need’, Vandse told the local newspaper.
Transgender Indians are still vulnerable
Transgender Indians in the capital, Delhi, have complained of continued violence since the Supreme Court ruling.
While LGB Indians may be pushing now for equality in marriage and adoption rights, transgender Indians are denied basic rights from birth, said Kritika Singh, board member of Transgender India. Transgender Indians need access to education, healthcare, and support services.
‘Nothing has changed for Transgender people nothing has increased for them since they were most vulnerable always’, Singh told Gay Star News.
Even though the government has directed to make laws, it has failed. ‘Still transgender Indians are not free’.