The News International
Published Date: May 9, 2020
Covid-19 a reminder for the need of transgenders inclusion in society
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the transgender persons’ socioeconomic vulnerability and isolation, so short and long-term measures, especially by the government, are imperative to support them and ensure alternate means of livelihood in the changing environment.
This was the crux of the presentations made by the representatives of the transgender community and development experts during an online policy dialogue organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here.
Project Manager of the Saathi Foundation, Lahore, Khursand Bayar Ali said transgender persons struggled to manage things during the current COVID-19 pandemic as the government didn’t play the role here to support the already marginalised segment of society.
She said the psychosocial counselling to be able to cope with the distress caused by the pandemic and increased isolation was critical for the community members besides the skill development such as using online space to earn livelihood in the new societal scenario.
SDPI Resilient Development Programme Director Dr Shafqat Munir highlighted the state of vulnerability of the transgender community in society during the current COVID-19 crisis.
“Unfortunately, the stigma we have attached with the transgender community leaves very little space for this segment of society (transgenders) to enjoy equal citizenship and access to opportunities including the means to earn a livelihood,” he said.
The SDPI director said the need assessment of the persons with special needs including the transgender community needed to be done properly for the right policy measures by the government.
He said societal behaviours towards the marginalized segments of society needed serious introspection and should be changed for their socio-economic assimilation.
UNDP consultant on gender and minorities Alishah Sherazi said the transgender community had lost whatever little employment they had following the outbreak of coronavirus.
She said the government had yet to provide any kind of assistance to the already isolated group.
Waqar Sherazi of the Benazir Income Support Programme said transgender persons were denied access to health, education and other services in the country.
“The government and society are equally responsible for this exclusion and this approach must be revisited now,” he said.
Faisal, a representative of the transgender community at Bait-ul-Mal, Islamabad highlighted the vulnerability of transgender persons and said Covid-19 had aggravated the issues.
She said steps should be taken to address the problems of the extremely marginalised community.