Stories from the Streets
The trans community has always been and will continue to be resilient. Throughout the COVID-19 Trans Resilience Campaign, APTN will be sharing the stories of Hope, Pain, and Survival of trans communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our third story comes from Samabhabona in India.
The Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights, Thailand
I am Diban, a 24 year old trans man from Kolkata, India. I have been working as a cook at a fast food franchise for the past one year. I live with my partner in a rented apartment.
I ran away from home along with my partner, a year and a half back. My parents were making me go through conversion therapy and were extremely violent towards me. Samabhabona, helped us get back on our feet and helped me get work. My partner also started working with an Environmental Justice organization. We rented a small flat and were working towards building a life together. We also have a small group of friends from the trans community who have become our support system. We were also thinking of adopting a dog together.
The first few months of the COVID crisis was very difficult. I did not have a job for over four months when the country was in total lockdown. When I was reinstated to my previous position, I was given only half of my previous salary, even though I still have to work eight hours a day, six days a week. My partner also lost her job during this crisis, which left me as the only earning member of our family. Currently my previous salary of around 10,000 INR (135 USD) per month has been reduced to 5000 INR (68 USD) per month for ten hours of daily work.
My reduced income is not enough to support us through the month and pay the house rent. The prices of groceries and other house rations have also skyrocketed making our economic situation very dire. The COVID crisis has also made an impact on my mental health and has made me very anxious. Being cut off from the rest of the community during these bleak times has been very difficult.
The rations provided by Samabhabona have been a great help especially during the first four months when I was unemployed. The rations have really helped reduce the economic pressure significantly.
It helped put food to the table at a time when everything was shut, including grocery stores and bazaars. The rations have really helped my household survive despite my meagre income and prevented us from dying of starvation.
The government was initially providing rations to trans folks but I could not receive it because my gender is not changed on my official documents. I am worried about sustaining the household on my reduced income, paying the rent and getting food to eat for the next few months.
It is hard to feel hopeful in such difficult times. The world around seems so bleak with loss of jobs, income, increase in violence on trans people. I am looking for a better job and I hope I will be able to meet my community very soon and we will be able to support each other.
The community needs a lot of support both in terms of rations, financial aid, shelter and mental health support during the COVID crisis.