Transgenders during a protest in Srinagar
Transgenders during a protest in Srinagar | Photo: Umar Ganaie

SRINAGAR — The COVID-19 pandemic and months of lockdown have snatched the livelihood of transgenders in Kashmir. The already ‘marginalized’ community used to earn their living by working at limited places, mostly performing at weddings. Now, the community has been left to fend for themselves in the ongoing pandemic.

One of the transgenders said they are without a job for more than a year. “Due to lockdown, there are no weddings, and even if there are weddings, they are very low-key affairs. We are facing tough times at the moment,” the transgender said, adding that the source of income have dried up and many of transgenders are left with nothing.

Yesterday, some of the transgenders staged a protest, accusing government of doing nothing to mitigate their sufferings.

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“There are some noble souls who are helping us in these difficult times without publicizing it,” said one of the protesting transgenders.

One of the contributors, wishing not to be named, said that she along with her friends are trying to help this community. “We are distributing food among the community so that the members receive temporary relief. They had no food. We tried helping them first on the personal level but later when we started getting more calls, we got in touch with other like-minded people,” he said.

“We are a group of 30 members now, trying our best to reach out to as many transgenders as possible in our Kashmir Valley. We are providing food and other essentials to all of them,” the contributor said.

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The group is trying to generate funds so that they can help more people in the community.

These transgenders are make-up artists, singers and matchmakers. The lockdown has taken away their livelihoods.

The transgender community is also being left behind when it comes to health care. They allege harassment and humiliation every now and then at healthcare institutions. They want separate vaccination centres for their community.

“Some people poke fun on us, while we walk on the roads,” they maintain.

The community claims that they have been ignored and hardly received any help from the government.

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