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 the National Transgender Network in Sri Lanka.
National Transgender Network, Sri Lanka
I am Singithi Katunayake and I’m 35 years old. I am a transgender women and
I live by myself in Katunayake, Sri Lanka. My occupation is a sex worker. My family lives separately and I used to support them for their daily expenses. My income per month before Covid-19 was more than 50000 Sri Lankan Rupees (USD271).
During the pandemic I lost my job. The lock down period and curfew caused difficulties for me to be out in public and reach my customers and my gender identity was also an issue. This situation resulted in me losing my job. Losing my job made it difficult for me to settle my debts and my landlord forced me to pay my rent on time. I also had to go through difficulties in spending for my day to day expenses and I wasn’t able to afford to buy hormones for my transition.
I couldn’t receive the government benefit of Rs 5000. I was asked to fill in a form to receive my benefit and I was asked to be present at a certain location to avail it. But when I arrived the officer stated that due to my unchanged gender identity on my documents and because I rent, the benefit will not be provided to me. I continued to question the officer for his unfair treatment, but I was arrested by the police. I was taken to the station by a group of male policemen and was remanded in the male’s prison and they kept me there for 24 hours. I was released after 24 hours and I still did not receive my Rs5000.
The National Transgender Network in Sri Lanka gave me essential food packages and hormones. This helped me to support my basic necessities for a period of time. I was immensely benefited by this organization especially in sharing my thoughts with everyone, it made me mentally strong and motivated. I also received an essential food package from the organization called Young Out Here and these were the only supports provided to me.
I am afraid that I will lose my job due to the current situation if there will be further curfews and lockdowns. I was provided with free hormones for two months and I am not sure whether I will have enough money to afford for more hormones. Further, due to this situation, customers now visit spas and this has reduced my customer base and therefore I am worried on how to continue my job.
My hope is to build a stable and permanent house for me and to carry out my [gender affirming] surgeries successfully.