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Stories of Survival: Transgenders and the Pandemic

Stories of Survival: Transgenders and the Pandemic

The pandemic made survival ever harder for an already marginalised community.

Sex work for making a living was becoming harder for Shaina. Her clientele thinned to disappearing, as punters feared catching Covid-19. 

“Wouldn’t wish a time as grim as the lockdown even on my worst enemy,” said the teary-eyed Trans woman from Delhi. 

“Even the disease did not impact transgenders equally,” said Rudrani Chhetri ironically. She is an activist from Delhi and a trans woman herself.

She feels talk about equality is absurd and premature, in the face of such blatant prejudice against her peers. It’s all just talk.

The Kinnar community in Delhi is held with little regard at the best of times. The pandemic was, naturally, much worse. 

They mostly rely on soliciting sex, dancing at weddings and births, or begging at traffic signals. 

Social distancing norms and the strict lockdowns forced many in India’s 4.88 lakh-strong transgender population into penury. 

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Meanwhile, appeals for financial and medical aid to the government for helping the neediest among them went unheard. 

The disease had not only economic but also mental health repercussions.

Many reported abuse from hostile families who refused to let them stay in their homes at finding out about their lives and livelihoods. This rejection left many traumatised. 

As the rest of the world eases into post-Covid lives, the members of this community are still struggling to get back on their feet.

StoriesAsia, a collective of independent journalists from 16 South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, seeks to replace the present-day parade of faceless numbers with humanising narrative nonfiction – a largely ignored journalistic genre in the region.

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