NEW DELHI: Pam, 28, is uncertain when she will find employment next. As a transgender woman, she has taken discrimination in finding work in her stride. But the lockdown has put her life and livelihood on hold.
“I earned my livelihood as a make-up artist. There is no stable income as most of the work is seasonal. I have not been able to find a permanent job because I am a transgender person. With the lockdown, I have no idea when I will earn next. Anyway, I earn very little. I have not been able to complete my transition into a woman because of a lack of funds,” said Pam.
The uncertainty of the future constantly worries her.
While Pam stays with her parents in Shahdara and there is acceptance from her family, Leher, a transgender woman, said the emotional distress of being alone in this phase was damaging.
“This is a time when parents should worry about their children’s safety. But what is most upsetting is my parents care about their reputation even at this point and did not call me back home. I have been completely on my own,” said Leher, 23, who is a corporate professional.
The emotional challenges for the transgender community amid the lockdown were many, pointed out Simran Arora, consultant transgender, National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. “The transgender community is facing a range of issues, including financial stress and emotional distress,” said Arora.
The ministry launched a helpline on April 13 for counselling the transgender community.
The major symptoms reported at the helpline were depression due to social humiliation, anxiety due to increased stress factors due to lockdowns such as increased social isolation, job loss and financial stress.
The calls were received from Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Ahmedabad, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab. However, the helpline has received 15 calls from now.
The NBCFDC is currently reaching out to community-based organisations and planning to send messages to transgender persons on WhatsApp groups to publicise the helpline. “The transgender consultants are spreading it on social media,” said K Narayan, managing director, NBCFDC.