How Transgender and Non-Binary Communities Around the World Are Being Impacted by COVID-19

by HRC Staff

HRC held a virtual chat with global Latinx leaders to discuss the impact COVID-19 is having on transgender and non-binary communities around the world.

Post submitted by former HRC Global Director Jay Gilliam

On Tuesday, April 14, HRC and Arianna’s Center hosted an online chat with global Latinx leaders about the impact COVID-19 is having on transgender and non-binary communities around the world, particularly those living with HIV. These leaders discussed what is happening in their communities from Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In case you missed the discussion, you can watch it here (in Spanish) and read about the top five issues that these leaders raised.

  1. Access to health care: COVID-19 is restricting access to health care for many transgender and non-binary people. Due to COVID-19, many people are fearful of seeking care. Access to HIV and trans-related care is also being restricted, as medical providers prioritize COVID-related care.

“For three years there have been no antiretrovirals in Venezuela,” said Tamara Adrian from there. “This creates a higher risk for those living with HIV due to the lack of access to antiretrovirals and increases the dangers of contracting the COVID-19 virus.”

Delayed care can also have negative impacts on mental health.

  1. Livelihoods: The livelihoods of transgender and non-binary people are being decimated during the pandemic.

Alessia Injoque from Chile noted, “The statistics show that 90% of transgender people do not have access to a formal job. The relief measures taken support unemployed people. But many LGBTQ people are not part of the formal economy, left out of government aid without the possibility to earn any income.”

  1. Care for the most vulnerable: Like in the U.S., global advocates expressed the need to support the most vulnerable within the transgender and non-binary communities. These include youth, people living with HIV, the unhoused and sex workers. In particular, there is a strong need to educate families about how to care for youth coming out when they cannot access support in other ways, like school, friends and other activities outside the home.
  2. Public visibility and voice: Transgender and non-binary advocates have been working hard to raise visibility with the public and political leaders, yet COVID-19 is revealing how far they must still go.

Javiera from Peru said, “Visibility is extremely important to advance laws to protect our community. Throughout this crisis and the recent actions of the government, the critical need to enact a gender identity law has become more noticeable than ever.”

Advocates challenged community members to become empowered to educate political, business and community leaders.

  1. Impact of gender segregated quarantines: In places like Panama, governments are implementing gender-based quarantines, meaning that men are only allowed out in public on certain days and women on other days. Transgender and non-binary people who have been unable to update their gender markers have been subject to harassment, fines and abuse. Despite advocates’ demands, the Panamanian government has not issued guidance to protect the rights of transgender and non-binary people.

Governments can do better, as the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Victor Madrigal has challenged many to do. In Peru, after initially implementing a similar gender-based quarantine like Panama, the government cancelled the measure. Instead, they have a system in which only one person per family unit can leave their home on alternate days.

HRC applauds the extraordinary work of these Latinx transgender leaders and the many other resilient global advocates working on behalf of the communities. We will continue to amplify their voices and work and sound the alarm on these issues and others that affect various LGBTQ communities around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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