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Abuse Against the Transgender Community on the Rise Amid COVID-19

Divya Mridhula

14th September 2020

Members of the transgender community distribute masks to commuters amid the pandemic in Surat. (Source: Deccan Herald)

The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions around the world from migrant workers, students, corporate executives, and several more. Amidst this, transgender individuals grapple with depleting food supplies, little to no work opportunities, and no social security, leaving them prone to abuse.

Reshma - a transgender woman from Ajmer, the sole breadwinner of her family of five, told Deccan Herald, "As the lockdown progressed, and I was not able to bring anything back home, slowly the taunts started, which soon turned into verbal abuse. My family members, especially my brothers, for whom I had to drop out of school so that they could study, started calling me a disgrace". The verbal abuse slowly gave into physical abuse and became so unbearable that she finally decided to move out.

Krishna (name changed) - a 33-year old transwoman from Bangalore told Deccan Herald that her inability to earn an income caused her partner to abuse her physically. "The violence increased up to the point that I started fearing for my life. I finally left him and moved back with my family members, who also do not want me to stay with them for long; but till I get back on my feet, there is no other option," she added.

Many members of the transgender community in India mainly depend on making a living through begging, sex work, dancing and giving blessings at celebrations are now struggling to make a living amidst the Pandemic.

Activists from Red Comunitaria Trans Organisation informed The Guardian that a policy of making men and women leave their homes on alternate days during the lockdown in the Colombian capital of Bogotá is fuelling violence towards the transgender community by the police and public. In Bogotá, women can only go out on even-numbered dates and men on the odd for routine grocery shopping trips. The transgender community is, however, allowed to choose the days for themselves.

The Red Comunitataria Trans Organisation also informed Reuters news agency of a complaint received from a transgender woman from southern Bogotá, who was stabbed by a man who said she was out on a wrong day; a case also reported by local media.

The Trans Rights Organisation told The Guardian, "The separation by sex in times of Covid-19 is putting our lives and safety at risk".

Colombia is, however, not the Latin American country where restrictions have stocked fear amongst transgender people.

The Panamanian Association of Trans People informed Reuters news agency that they have received over 40 discrimination complaints since restrictions imposed in April., including problems getting into supermarkets and buying medicine.

"The trans community needs the help and support of the society and the government more than ever now," Meera Parida, Co-founder of Odisha’s first LGBTQ CBO told Deccan Herald.

The Pandemic has pushed the community, further into depths of marginalisation world over.

(Sources: The Guardian, Deccan Herald, Reuters.)

Edited by Pratheek S

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