The pandemic has hit almost all sections of the society in ways more than one. Scores have been left jobless and many have been left to fend for themselves as lockdowns have prolonged. One of the lesser talked about sections is the transgender community in Kashmir, which seems to have been severely impacted as their sources of income have dried up.
Khushi Mir, a transgender from Srinagar has been without a job for more than a year. Khushi is a make-up artist and she has not had a client since the start of pandemic . Her clients mostly were brides and due to lockdown, there have been no weddings which means no business for her.
But that did not stop her from creating a group where not only has she managed to help herself but hundreds of other transgenders. Along with four young boys, she started a volunteer group. They’re currently distributing food kits to the transgender community.
“A friend called me a few weeks ago and was in a very desperate situation, they had no food. I tried helping first on a personal level but later when I started getting more calls. I got in touch with Uzair. We are a group of 5 and we are trying our best to reach as many transgenders as possible. We have a list on 400 with us and slowly we are providing food kits to all of them.” says Khushi Mir, volunteer.
Khushi, on her own managed to make a network among the transgender community in the valley. They have listed 400 so far. These transgenders were make-up artists, singers and matchmakers. But due to lockdown they have lost their livelihoods.
Transgender community experiences harassment which has impacted the rates of vaccination among the community. They’re requesting the government to start a special vaccination drive or to stipulate a centre for their community.
”We want separate vaccination centres for our community. Some people make fun of us while we walk on the roads, we don’t want to go through that humiliation during our vaccination. So, a small vaccination centre for us would be a great help by the government.” says Khushi Mir, Volunteer.
Among the other four members of the group are Mir Junaid and Uzair Dar. They have managed to crowd fund this project. Multiple people and organisations from across the country have donated for this cause.
”We distribute a ration kit [to] transgenders. The kit includes 25 kgs rice, 5 litre oil, spices, tea, sugar and salt. It costs us around 2500 rupees to make per kit. We have a list of 400 transgenders in total with us. In our first drive, we managed to reach out to 50 people,” says Uzair Dar, Volunteer. The community claims that they have not received any help from the government.