Panama’s Gender-Based Lockdown and the Resilience of Transgender Activism

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07/21/2021

On April 1, 2020, the government of Panama introduced a gender-based lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that women and men were only allowed to do essential shopping on alternate days. The country’s Health Ministry described the gender-based quarantine as “the simplest procedure” to reduce the number of people on the streets (Health Ministry of Panama, 2020). An unintended consequence of this measure was that police and private security guards began to single out transgender people for profiling for being out “on the wrong day.” In some cases, they arrested and fined trans people, or prevented them from buying essential items like food and medication. These cases of discrimination occurred when security agents’ visually identified trans people, or after they checked the sex marker on their national identification cards. The incidents occurred both when trans people sought to respect the quarantine measure based on their gender identity, and based on their sex marker (Human Rights Watch, 2020).

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