India’s ‘invisible’ trans community struggles as coronavirus shuts life down

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03/25/2020

India’s coronavirus lockdown leaves transgender people at heightened risk of poverty and ill health because they exist on the margins of society, eking out a living through sex work and begging, activists and community members said on Tuesday. The warning came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown in the country of 1.3 billion, where the virus has claimed at least nine lives. Anindya Hajra, a trans woman who works with the Pratyay Gender Trust on transgender livelihood issues, said India’s estimated 2 million trans people would be among those worst hit by the move because many make their living on the streets. “They do not have the social privilege of operating within a distant ‘online’ world when their lives are precariously balanced on the thread of social interaction and functions,” said Hajra. India’s Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that transgender people had equal rights, but prejudice against them persists and they are often rejected by their families and denied jobs, education and healthcare.

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