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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 131-132

Vulnerable transgender community during COVID-19 and lockdown in India


Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission16-Jun-2020
Date of Decision27-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance08-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jatin Chaudary
Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_165_20

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How to cite this article:
Chaudary J. Vulnerable transgender community during COVID-19 and lockdown in India. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:131-2

How to cite this URL:
Chaudary J. Vulnerable transgender community during COVID-19 and lockdown in India. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 19];37:131-2. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/1/131/312859



Dear Sir,

According to the Census of 2011, there were around 4.88 lakh transgender people in India with 55,000 children identified as transgender by their parents. Transgender people are one of the vulnerable and stigmatized groups in society.[1] Because of their gender identity, they are rejected by their families and communities and are often socially marginalized. This has a grave impact on a transgender life, leading to isolation, poverty, violence, lack of social and economic support systems, compromised health outcomes, heightened risk for HIV, mental health disparities, and substance abuse.[2] The community has recently become more vulnerable due to COVID crisis. Hatred and phobia against the community during the pandemic were seen in Hyderabad, where posters were put at various places as shown in [Figure 1] which reads that “Warning: Do not allow Kojja, Hijras near the shops. If you talk to them or have sex with them, you will be infected with Corona Virus. Beat and drive them away or call 100 immediately. Save people from Corona Virus Hijras.”[3] Such incidents have made the pandemic worse for them.
Figure 1: Transphobic Posters in Hyderabad (“Warning: Do not allow Kojja, Hijras near the shops. If you talk to them or have sex with them, you will be infected with Corona Virus. Beat and drive them away or call 100 immediately. Save people from Corona Virus Hijras”)

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The introduction of strong restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has a substantial effect on the global economy, including an increase in the unemployment rate worldwide.[4] Poverty hits the transcommunity hard as many are already unemployed in India. Since most of them are daily-wage earners forced to subsist on begging and sex work, the restrictive measures such as social distancing, self-isolation, and travel restrictions due to lockdown have affected them adversely. The worst part is that a large number of them do not have basic documentation, including Aadhaar, ration card, voter ID, or bank account in their self-identified name and gender. This pulls them outside the coverage of government social security schemes, such as rations and pensions, making it impossible to survive in these difficult times of lockdown.[5]

Transgender people have some of their specific medical needs. Apart from having a higher prevalence of HIV/STI, they have other critical health concerns such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and tuberculosis. Most of them undergo various gender affirmation procedures such as cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery. Transpeople are on long-term hormone use during the transition phase.[6] The barriers to the healthcare they have to face due to COVID crisis such as the lack of supply and availability of hormones, physician counseling, deficiency of proper monitoring of mental health issues, and other adverse events due to hormonal treatment may have detrimental consequences for transgender people.[4],[5]

Transgender people need help during this pandemic from a multiple set of people such as government, community, healthcare workers, administrators, as well as NGOs. They can be empowered by providing them with the essential medicines such as hormones and HIV medicines, enrolling them in various health schemes, as well as providing the jobless with money and food, and generating funds targeted for transcommunity. The media should aware people and the government regarding the problems faced by transpeople during the pandemic, giving them a voice. The stigma attached to them should be curbed, and the people who are intentionally spreading rumors and attacking their dignity should be held. The healthcare workers should be motivated to give special attention toward this marginalized group and provide them with essential care, mental health counseling, and consultation through telemedicine or special day clinics.[7],[8]

The governments, policymakers, and the private sector should actively consider the difficulties and situation faced by transgender people when planning to address the healthcare crisis and implement suitable strategies to help this minority group during this pandemic. In addition, transgender persons should be engaged while planning any activity for them as they can better tell what services are most needed and in what way they should be provided to transgender communities.[3],[8]

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Sawant N. Transgender: Status in India. Ann Indian Psy 2017;1:59  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Divan V, Cortez C, Smelyanskaya M, Keatley J. Transgender social inclusion and equality: A pivotal path to development. J Int AIDS Soc 2016;19:20803.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Posters Crop Up in Hyderabad Inciting Violence against Transgenders, Blame Them for Spreading Coronavirus. Available from: https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/posters-crop-up- in-hyderabad-inciting-violence-against-transgenders-blame- them-for-spreading-coronavirus/571132. [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 05].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Wang Y, Pan B, Liu Y, Wilson A, Ou J, Chen R. Health care and mental health challenges for transgender individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2020;8:564-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
COVID-19 and The Plight of the Transgender Community. Available from: https://frontline.thehindu.com/dispatches/article31463945.ece. [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 06].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
MacCarthy S, Reisner SL, Nunn A, Perez-Brumer A, Operario D. The time is now: Attention increases to transgender health in the United States but scientific knowledge gaps remain. LGBT Health 2015;2:287-91.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Safer JD, Coleman E, Feldman J, Garofalo R, Hembree W, Radix A, et al. Barriers to healthcare for transgender individuals. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 2016;23:168-71.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Shaikh S, Mburu G, Arumugam V, Mattipalli N, Aher A, Mehta S, et al. Empowering communities and strengthening systems to improve transgender health: Outcomes from the Pehchan programme in India. J Int AIDS Soc 2016;19:20809.  Back to cited text no. 8
    


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