Pandemic and exacerbated troubles of the Trans community
The Covid 19 pandemic has left all of us gasping for air and struggling to make ends meet. Even the best of the lot were left devastated by the pandemic, then, we can fairly imagine if not realise the extent of suffering a marginalised community like the queer community must have gone through during the COVID-19 induced pandemic.
From deep-rooted stigma, little to no source of income to lack of support from family and friends, the trans community is enduring it all during these trying times.
The community suffers because there are no permanent jobs for them. A large number of people from the queer community are dependent on extremely volatile sources of income which they haven’t had the privilege of choosing but were forced into. Due to discriminatory practices, they are often ostracized from society and have to live in slums or congested areas where the chances of contacting covid increases manifold. Due to lockdown, most of the community members were restricted to stay indoors or in isolation which reduced their engagement in safe places thus taking a toll on their mental health.
Nazariya, a queer feminist resource group, that works towards affirming the rights of queer women and trans persons, told NDTV that their helpline number has been addressing double the number of calls. With multiple continuous lockdowns and cancellation of weddings and other ceremonies, a majority of the transgender community have not been able to earn their fair share. So, now they are battling against covid and its indirect implications.
In these difficult times, the government, policymakers and the private sector must actively consider the unique situations of the community in their plans for addressing the crisis. As of now, the Indian Government hasn’t done much for them. Recently, The Social Justice Ministry gave transgender individuals one-time financial assistance of ₹1,500 and even though it is an appreciable move, it does little to improve their conditions.
The government could intervene in a number of ways. Special shelters/baseras can be earmarked for them, nation-wide mental health helplines and toolkits can be made, access to government schemes can be made easier, facilitating all the essential activities through NGOs. As of now, Manipur is the only state to have a transgender dedicated quarantine facility.
Private institutions can ease their lives by providing them with jobs or by carrying out programs as a part of their CSR like donating to NGOs, conducting free vaccination drives, partnering with small queer businesses and ensuring that their workplace is inclusive.
On an individual level, if you want to spread awareness and help trans groups you can help carry out fundraisers and donate to NGOs and queer business. If you want to donate to NGOs and are struggling to find the list of the same, click here.
After the pandemic is over, there is a long journey to take for the community to return to normal and therefore, we should not flinch from doing what is deemed necessary, not just at the time of Pride Month but otherwise as well.