Writing to the government, more than 2,100 people from the transgender community have demanded that they be provided with a special package including an assured subsistence income of at least Rs 3,000 per month till the COVID-19 crisis comes under complete control.
They wrote an open letter to Ministries of Home, Finance, and Social Justice, claiming that the government has not announced any scheme which benefits them since the lockdown was implemented, pushing the community into further vulnerability.
The community claimed that the financial package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made no reference to the transgender community.
They further demanded the supply of all essential medication including ART medicines, tuberculosis care and treatment, hormone therapy, and other gender-affirming procedures. They claimed that it should be assured that no transgender person is forced to pay rent or is evicted by the house owners for failing to pay the rent, as long as the lockdown in under implementation.
They urged the government to ensure monthly ration kits, and to universalize the Public Distribution System (PDS) to ensure food security to every citizen.
"In a welfare state, it is important that vulnerable populations are not seen from the prism of being a 'numerically influential vote constituency', but supported by virtue of we being citizens and taxpayers of this country, entitled to equal rights and share in the schemes. We thus seek our rightful share in the Special Financial Package declared due to the lockdown," Deccan Herald quoted the letter as saying.
"A majority of transgender persons live in conditions of abject poverty, social exclusion and eke out our livelihood primarily through begging and sex work, both of which are avenues of work that entail public presence and physical contact. With physical distancing having been mandated (and rightly so to prevent furthering of virus) transgender persons have been weaned away from our only source of work. With no permanent sources of income, our condition is as vulnerable as daily wage earners," it further said.
The community pitched for universalization of PDS, claiming that many of them do not have basic documentation such as Aadhaar card, ration card, election card and bank accounts, and are therefore not able to seek services from the government.
"Most of us remain outside the coverage of government social security schemes like rations and pensions; making it impossible to survive in such times of lockdown. The non-availability of suitable ID cards is a systemic gap as pointed out even by the Supreme Court and cannot be used against us to deny welfare benefits," they said.