COVID-19 Trans Resilience Campaign: Week 5 – Human Rights – Story from the Streets – Venasa Transgender Network

Published April 15, 2021

Organisational Profile: 

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 last story comes from Venasa Transgender Network in Sri Lanka.

Venasa Transgender Network, Sri Lanka

My name is Saman, I am a 20 year old trans man from Colombo, Sri Lanka. I work as a lampshade manufacturer in a factory. In my job, I used to earn Rs 20,000/month (USD108). I live in a rented apartment. Thankfully after lockdown because of COVID, I still had a job and my salary was the same. 

But after COVID my living situation worsened. Before COVID no one knew I was a trans man, not even my landlord. But because during COVID lockdown months I did not get my salary, I could not pay rent and my landlord kicked me out. I was able to find another small place to stay. One day I came across my old landlord in the street. He somehow found out I was trans and he began assaulting me on the street, he robbed me of my phone and he tore my clothes. 

Following this I filed a complaint at the police station but because I hadn’t changed my national identity card, my gender identity was realized by the police. Then the police started to harass me. One day the police arrived at my new apartment, at midnight. They questioned me and spoke to my neighbors. The police revealed my gender identity to my neighbors. I had to leave that apartment after that. I left Colombo and because of that lost my job.

My financial status was very weak, but Venasa Trans Network assisted me financially, they gave me a safe space and food and helped me to stabilize financially.

I fear harassment from the police and previous landlords. I also fear the possibility of health complications as I recently resumed a new job right after a [gender affirmation] surgery, and now I also fear the risk of gender-based harassment as more people are aware of my gender identity. However, my employer is aware of my gender identity and has expressed positive opinions about it.