The states of Telangana and West Bengal have created separate wards for Transgender persons who have been infected by COVID-19 or need to be tested for the same. A Public Interest Litigation, had been filed by Vayjanti Vasanta Mogli, a founding member of Telangana Hijra, Intersex and Transgender Samiti, seeking separate wards for the persons of the community from the Telangana High Court. The High Court had thus issued directions for the State Government of Telangana, which included creating separate wards in Government hospitals for Transgender people, and providing free healthcare and medicines. Transgender people who are unable to access medicines for hormone therapy due to lockdown shall also be provided for medicines sponsored by the State.
The decision to create separate COVID-19 wards in the State of West Bengal is a Government initiative after Ranjita Sinha, a Member of the West Bengal Transgender Board and Bappaditya Mukherjee, founding member of Prantakatha, wrote to the Health Ministry regarding the same. Mukherjee tells SheThePeople.TV, “Access to healthcare by the Transgender community has been curtailed due to the discrimination. Transgender people do not feel comfortable and prefer not to access institutional healthcare”. He further adds, “Since people are being picked up by the police and being made to quarantine in hospitals we would not know in which ward Transgender people would have to stay”.
In the wake of this pandemic, Transgender people have been facing marginalization and lack of livelihood.
One Transwoman, who was tested COVID-19 positive, has been admitted to the ward created in MR Bangur Hospital.
I am getting all the required medical attention and everything is fine in the ward," the transgender healthcare worker who tested positive told TOI, adding, "I don't have much symptoms and I could have stayed in home quarantine. But as I live alone, I was a bit concerned about who would run errands for me. That is why I got hospitalised."
Why this matters
In the wake of this pandemic, Transgender people have been facing marginalisation and lack of livelihood. In this scenario, the creation of separate wards in hospitals for Transgender people in the states of Telangana and West Bengal is a welcome change which is a small step towards reshaping the relationship that the community shares with institutionalised healthcare.
Access to healthcare by the Transgender community has been curtailed due to the discrimination. Transgender people do not feel comfortable and prefer not to access institutional healthcare
In many states, Transgender organisations have been advocating for separate wards for the community in Government hospitals. COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified the need for separate wards. As per the 2018 report titled A cross sectional study to assess the discrimination faced by trans genders in health care facilities- Chennai, Tamil Nadu, "Among 47 respondents, 17.6 percent of the transgenders had delayed going to hospital fearing discrimination. Harassment either in physical or verbal form experienced by 41.2 percent and 37.5 percent faced discrimination in the form of judgemental looks or comments.
The stigmatized approach of healthcare professionals often keeps them from accessing institutional healthcare. Hence, it is crucial to create separate wards for Transgender individuals. This allows them access to medical care and attention without compromising their privacy or expression of gender identity.
Picture Credit: PTI
Priyanka Chakrabarty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV