ISLAMABAD: The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has further increased the existing social and economic vulnerability and isolation for the transgender community.
Immediate short and long term measures during the pandemic situation were absolutely imperative to support the community, especially by the government, in addition to ensure alternate means of livelihood in a changed environment.
Representatives of the transgender community and development experts shared these views during an online policy dialogue titled ‘Transgender Community amid Covid-19; the already isolated community in quarantine’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday.
The Saathi Foundation Project Manager Khursand Bayar said that the government and the state couldn’t play the role to support an already marginalised segment of society.
Bayar said that psychosocial counseling to be able to cope with the distress caused by the pandemic and increased isolation is critical for transgender community members beside the skill development such as using online space to earn livelihood in this new societal scenario.
The Resilient Development Programme Director Dr Shafqat Munir said that unfortunately the stigma they have attached with the transgender community leaves a very little space for this segment of society to enjoy equal citizenship and access to opportunities including the means to earn livelihood.
Munir said that assessment of needs of transgender community needs to be done properly for the right policy measures by the government. Besides, the societal behaviors towards the marginalised segments of society need serious introspection and must be changed for their socio-economic assimilation.
The UNDP consultant for gender and minorities Alishah Sherazi said that the transgender community has lost whatever little employment they had due to Covid-19. She said that the government has yet to provide any kind of assistance to this already isolated group.
Development sector’s professional Waqar Sherazi said that the transgender community in the country is being denied access to health, education and other services. The government and the society were equally responsible for this exclusion and the approach must be revisited now, he added.
Representative of transgender community Faisal highlighted various kinds of vulnerabilities they had been facing and said that Covid-19 has aggravated these issues further. She said that steps should be taken to alleviate the problems of this extremely marginalised community.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2020.