India’s COVID-19 lockdown has left transgender people at heightened risk of hunger and poverty since most of them make their living on streets by begging, street entertainment, and paid sex. They are not socially privileged to operate within the online world as they are predominantly dependent on social interactions and functions such as weddings or baby showers.
How it is affected? The absence of healthcare backup and lack of awareness increases the looming fear among the transgender community regarding the budding impact of COVID-19. A substantial rate of economic instability, as well as social discrimination, was visible before the pandemic, thereby worsening their situation with a lack of food, fund, insecurity, safety, and mental health concern during COVID-19.
“A majority of the transgender community like a majority of non-transgender community is working class. The idea of social distancing and working from home are very, very privileged ideas and this will essentially render a lot of people in transgender communities hungry and unable to sustain themselves.”Says Bittu Kartik, Faculty member at Ashoka University.
What Can Be Done?
Since a majority of transgender people are solely reliant on dealing with public and community-oriented jobs, they are walloped in the times of pandemic. Like daily wage earners, the transgender people also earn on an everyday basis from their gig jobs. Due to the pandemic scenario, the hand to mouth transgender people are adversely affected and are left out to rely on their savings.
Members of the community also feel that it would make a great difference if the coronavirus testing centres declared themselves as ‘trans-friendly. If in the separation wards they have the male-female binaries and there is no centre for trans-women or trans-men, then it becomes extremely difficult to access that kind of healthcare. Many trans-people die from this sheer delay.We will have to try and educate the less privileged trans-persons and everyone else, and that is going to happen when we try to make the healthcare system far more inclusive, far more friendly and, at this point, make all this information accessible in multiple languages. And if we know for a fact that all these testing centres openly declare themselves as trans-friendly, that is going to make a hell of a lot of difference.