Stories from the Streets
The trans community has always been and will continue to be resilient. Throughout the COVID-19 Trans Resilience Campaign, APTN has been sharing the stories of Hope, Pain, and Survival of trans communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our next story comes from Haus of Khameleon in Fiji.
Haus of Khameleon, Fiji
The name gifted to me by my ancestors is Ratu Eroni Ledua Dina (but known affectionately to most as Rhonda). I am from Fiji, a proud Founding member of Haus of Khameleon, Board Director at Rainbow Pride Foundation Ltd, Court Supreme house mother, singer-songwriter, activist and citizen of the world.
I am a millennial indigenous Fijian transwoman who firmly believes that the rights of any human being and every other living creature is uncompromisable and no spaces should ever be created to allow its conditioning. I am fervent about indigeneity, mental health and suicide prevention also dabbling in climate justice and wildlife conservation.
This pandemic, like every working-class citizen, has made me fear the future because of its many uncertainties. For a transwoman, the gloominess seemed more disastrous because the pool of potential employers that actively employ transwomen in corporate spaces pre-pandemic were already near to none. As the only transwoman in management at my current workplace, I was lucky to be retained as we adopted a ‘last in – first out’ retrenchment strategy. A lot of young people fell within the boundaries of this strategy, so I took it upon myself to keep watch. If any from our community fell victim to this, I would take them home for a more personalized peer support session or simply to provide a safe space to relieve stress brought about by losing a job.
It was stressful but such is the dynamic and empathy was never in short supply during this pandemic. As a house mother, by duty my home was open to many who had lost jobs, sought a haven or an escape during this pandemic. I love people and something that my own mother taught me was never to close my doors to people who genuinely need help, help you know you can provide. I value those moments as we had quite a few beautiful times. Although there may not be much to go around to fully satisfy needs but when it is shared, the heart is always…. ALWAYS so content.
I urge us all to choose kindness over correctness. In these trying times, there is always so much to share. As a transwoman who struggled to learn and survive in a world where people did not want to share anything with those like me, stumbling upon kindness was rare and more precious than gold. Kindness should not have to be rare; we are all in this together. We are all beautiful and wonderfully made and with our beautiful gifts, we can get more done together than apart.