“It was not just the food for trans-people; receiving these relief packages saved their integrity as they would otherwise roam around on the street to find some work and be at risk of discrimination and abuse,” says Sapna.

At the center of the pandemic, lies the transgender community that has borne the brunt of the negative consequences of COVID. This community, marred by inequalities in opportunities and resources, experienced loss of income and homelessness, and faced an increase in discrimination and stigmatization. Their most pressing needs, access to food/ration items and emergency housing, were magnified and intensified as a result of the pandemic. These realities were revealed in the pilot socio-economic assessment conducted by UNDP, with support from UNFPA.

Based on the findings, a protection center for transgender persons in Islamabad/ Rawalpindi and the distribution of relief packages in all the four provinces, was undertaken.

At the center of the pandemic, lies the transgender community that has borne the brunt of the negative consequences of COVID.

Initially, 125 food relief packages to transgender persons who lost their incomes in Islamabad and Rawalpindi were distributed. This was later extended to rest of the country, with food relief packages distributed to transgender persons and other vulnerable groups (including persons with disabilities and women led households) across all provinces.

Namkeen from Peshawar shared that fear of virus contraction coupled with financial crises, resulted in mental and psychological challenges for trans-persons. Namkeen explained, “Receiving food packages enabled us to save some money and pay our house rent that month,” thereby reducing the intense stress and pressure they were facing.

Gul Baggi, based in Multan, explained that the month of Ramzan was one of the most difficult times during pandemic. “By then, most of our community members had spent whatever meager savings they had, and wanted to observe fasting with usual reverence. When trans-persons were provided with food packages, their self-esteem was boosted, and they were able to participate in this important cultural event.” 

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