The Third Eye Café: empowering transgender employees

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Nimish Shetty

The third gender, a gender which is often not talked about, a gender that is forced to remain in the dark and a gender whose presence is neglected. Transgenders always have the constant feeling of negligence from the society as people never really cared to befriend them or to just accept them as the way they are. They are seen in the shadows of unacceptability, shame and repugnance. It feel’s disgusting to realize that human being them self has this unknown self-esteem that force them to become superior among their own. Where on the one hand the LGBTQ community is fighting for their rights, a very few people came forward to lend help. A ray of hope came in the way of the ‘Third Eye café’, who are empowering this community by hiring transgender employees.

What’s inside the Third Eye Café?

Nimish Shetty, the owner of the Third Eye Café says that, ‘Third’ in the name means the third community which is the transgender community and ‘Eye’ means, the third or would say a different perspective of looking at things. Basically it shows the third perspective to the society, the perspective of the LGBTQ community. This Mumbai based restaurant hires only transgender employees because they want to support a very Nobel cause of promoting the third community within the country. It is often seen that transgender people either end up begging or get involved in prostitution- it’s more like a tag on them. But that’s not entirely true, as it’s the circumstances that eventually forces them into these kind of work forces. Because of the stigma attached to them, transgender are rarely hired as an employee to work within the business world. Apart from this, majority of the community barely pass matriculation as they drop out of schools because of the obvious reasons. So, together these obstacles stitch up to a bigger problem- A wide range of unemployed transgender. And this is exactly where the role of the ‘Third Eye Café’ starts!

Nimish Shetty

According to Nimish Shetty, the idea came to him back in 2011 or 2012, when he was doing his research on the transgender community as a part of a college thesis. During the research, he realized the kinds of problems the community faces and understood the basic needs of the community. That’s when he got stuck with the idea of opening up the café where he could employee the transgender community and do his bit towards improvement. The idea was to get these people into the mainstream industry. With the help of some people who were considered big within the community, Nimish managed to get in touch with the people who are in need of the job and are suitable for the same. At first he said that the main challenge for him was to prove that the idea will work, but realizing the beauty of the cause he got help in several ways.   

Nimish Shetty together with Prasad Shetty and Nitesh Kandarkar runs the Third Eye Cafe in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, which is changing the trend by omitting societal taboos and hiring transgenders as workers. Where once the community was bombarded with shame, today with the help of this café, they live with dignity and pride. The walls of the café reads ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’, which in itself promotes the cause altogether. Started in 2017, the Third Eye Café till now has managed to have 6 transgender employees, designated as table assistant, manager and the kitchen staff. He further adds that the café get varied kinds of customers, on weekdays a lot of college kids come whereas on weekends they mostly see the crowd of families and elderly joining the eve. As per the workers, they say they feel like a family working in the café. The owners as well as the workers are extremely happy because of the overwhelming response they get from the customers. So far, customers has appreciated the efforts and loved visiting again and again!          

The team of The Indianness salutes and congratulate Nimish Shetty, Prasad Shetty and Nitesh Kandarkar for their initiative- ‘Third Eye Café’. And we hope that through this café, perspective about the transgender community will surely change and we can definitely look forward to a more supportive future.  

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