Covid and Transgender

The transgender community is a heterogeneous community, so there are different concerns for different people, says Chayanika Shah of LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective.Those begging or doing sex work are the worst affected because they have no livelihood,  they stay in small houses and these are not safe conditions. These congested areas are likely to be a hotbed for Covid- 19, as positive cases are beginning to be detected in slums and chawla of Mumbai. Earlier in Hyderabad, transphobic posters were found at a Metro station saying, if you talk to transgender, you will get corona,  brining to light the prevailing problems of social stigma.

With a general lack of healthcare support and awereness, there is a looming fear main the transgender community about the potential impact of coronavirus on those who are HIV positive. Although, there is little clarity on whether those living with HIV are at high risk to COVID- 19. According to the UNAIDS estimate, around 68% of transgender people living with HIV are aware of their status, making them vulnerable to fear and stress. The HIV prevalence main transgender people in India was estimated to be 3.1 % in 2017, the second- highest prevalence among al key populations  in the country.

While several members of the Hijra community have support in community households and gurus to help with food supplies, transmen are scattered in the city. Most transmen are either living with their partners or alone and not being able to be in touch with the community, informs Shah. The difference between migrant labourers and transgender person is that the latter don’t have jokes to go back to and are often cut off from their families.

Transgender and non- binary persons living with hostile families under the current lockdown have to deal with stress and trauma, especially those who have recently undergone sex- reassignment surgery or are taking hormones. Chemists might run out of their medication or may not stock it due to the lockdown. Before the COVID- 19 outbreak, they found solidarity in members of the queer community, with whom they spent most of their time. One was also face some problems during the lockdown. He identifies as trans/ non- binary and works as a teacher in Thane. Lack of access to therapy due to the lockdown, the transgender community is also battling discrimination, phobia and stigma in healthcare, on with a lack of adequate documentation or identity proof to avail benefits. India currently has around 4.8 lakh transgender people, as per the 2011 census data, of whom only around 10% have a voter ID. On an average day before the lockdown, they would make anything between ₹500 and ₹1000 on a daily basis. But the nationwide lockdown, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, has left her and several other transgender persons struggling to make ends meet.

The number of women travelling by local trains began to reduce for a week before the lockdown. But they could rely on the vegetable vendors in Dadar to provide her with free groceries.

When it comes to an outbreak like situation in terms of coronvirus, when many patients are competing for limited healthcare resources, then naturally, one of the groups that get the least priority, in terms of access and availability of healthcare facilities, would be the transgender groups.

Trans lives are more at risk due to COVID- 19 because most trans-person have lower levels of immunity.  Specially spelling about the effect of coronavirus infection on transgender person, we need to understand that a lot of transgender persons are having lower level of helath as compared to the general population because of the neglect to their own pyhsical and mental health.

Conclusion

The entire community faces discrimination when it comes to basic healthcare and it only gets worse during a pandemic. 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. If these testing centres openly declare themselves as trans- friendly, that is going to make a hell of alot of difference.

Reference

1.https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/covid-19-lockdown-transgender-community-pushed-further-to-the-margin/article31265535.ece

2.https://www.thequint.com/amp/story/neon/gender/coronavirus-transgender-community-impact

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