Trans people share joy after desperately-needed COVID-19 vaccine drive: ‘I felt human’

Vic Parsons June 21, 2021
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Transgender activists protest the Transgender Persons Bill in New Delhi on January 20, 2019. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 70 trans people were vaccinated in one day against COVID-19, as part of a successful vaccine drive in India.

Trans people in India are often excluded from social safety nets and the pandemic has been no exception.

The vaccine drive, at SL Raheja Hospital in Mahim, Mumbai, was an effort to reach members of this vulnerable group.

“Many trans members are immunocompromised and are at a greater risk of infection from the virus,” Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a trans activist, told News18.

Tripathi added: “We are extremely happy that a hospital has initiated such a drive, and have helped trans members get vaccinated in a hassle free manner.”

Trans people in India often lack identification documents, or have documents in the wrong gender, which can exclude them from being vaccinated as part of the public health programme.

Trans people in India can get ID documents in the correct gender through an online portal, without the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, but activists point to the fact that many trans people will not have access to a computer.

Another barrier to vaccination is trans people fearing that they will be poorly treated by the vaccination medics.

Dr Amit at the SL Raheja Hospital, who supervised the vaccine drive, said: “The community is often neglected and does not generally fall in the government’s scheme of things… the idea behind the drive is to draw the attention of the government towards such vulnerable groups and provide them a safety net through vaccination.”

Pooja Sharma, who was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Sunday’s (20 June) vaccine drive, said she was happy to receive her jab.

“It was my dream to get vaccinated,” Sharma said. “When I got a call about this drive, I was elated and felt I’m also human now. We have always been struggling for a fair treatment. We are not considered humans, but today I feel great even after being pricked.”

Another trans person, Ganga, who was vaccinated said that organisers of the drive had clearly thought through how to help the trans and wider LGBT+ community.

“It’s a first initiative but I’m glad and hope more such organisation and people come forward to help us,” Ganga said. “It’s true that many are reluctant, but today after taking the jab, I feel I’ve contributed to this fight against coronavirus.”

“If you still haven’t got a jab, have patience it will come to you. Till that time, wear a mask, follow protocol and still you can do your bit.”

Related topics: COVID-19, India, Trans

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