Apart from daily wage workers, the second wave of COVID-19 lockdown worst affected the transgender community who, in normal times, have been involved in begging, sex work and informal labour. Driven away from their homes early in life, the members of the community lack identity cards or bank accounts and also ration cards due to no valid residence proof along with identifying with a different gender from the one assigned at the time of their birth. Also Read - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Counting on Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford to Boost Manchester United's Season Run on Premier League Return
Even though on March 25, 2020 the Union government responsed to a letter by transgender activists by announcing Rs 1,500 as a grant to members of the community, less than one percent of them have received it from the National Institute of Social Defence (NISD), under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. In an interview with The Wire, Meera Sanghamitra, trans activist and convenor of the National Alliance of People’s Movements in Telangana shared, “Even by this estimate, less than 1% of the overall transgender population of the country have received NISD assistance. Most still remain out of the state’s reach, and continue to survive in most gruelling circumstances. The Telangana government has been sitting on the applications for new ration cards from some seven lakh families. No cards have been issued in the past five years. Denial of these cards to trans persons is but a continuation of this denial of benefits in this situation.” Also Read - Richa Chadha Opens up on Wedding Preparations With Ali Fazal, Says 'Will Take Call Only When Normalcy Returns'
The activists lauded Kerala’s efforts in taking care of the trans persons in the state. With the state government distributing ration kits to a large section of the transgender community, Kerala has been a notable exception. Also Read - 'Will Defeat Coronavirus Under CM Thackeray's Leadership': Maharashtra Minister Raut Slams Centre, BJP | Watch
Asking for essential help, a group of over 2,182 transgender activists have now appealed to the home, finance and social justice and empowerment ministries. The activists pointed out, “The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has failed trans persons. Nothing specific was given to the community which is marginalised even in the best of times. The only support was offered through the NISD which asked us to apply for monetary help online.”
The lack of food and nutritional security, housing, steady income and sanitation facilities has rendered the community completely vulnerable during the lockdown. A subsistence income of at least Rs 3,000, immunity against evictions, an uninterrupted supply of all essential medication and food are some of the things that the activists have asked the government to announce in an assistance package for the community until the pandemic subsides.