Goa: After months of hesitancy, transgenders warm up to jab
PANAJI: Even as the Goa government claimed that it has vaccinated 102% of its eligible population with the first dose, the state’s transgender community has only just started receiving their vaccines.
The community has been skeptical about the vaccine since the drive started, with various fears ranging from side effects of the vaccine, doubts on its impact on hormone medication, and non-change of their Aadhaar card after gender affirmation surgeries (procedures that help people transition to their self-identified gender).
Lack of sufficient information has left many members of this community hesitant to take the jab.
“For the longest time, we were unsure of whether or not we would get vaccinated,” said Julie, a transgender from Margao who makes a living by begging at the Margao railway station.
“We still do not know if there will be side effects of the vaccine to the hormones, yet I got my first jab because I neither want to die of Covid-19 nor of hunger,” she said.
Every day, Julie takes a train from Margao till it reaches the Goa border, and then takes another to alight at the Thivim station. Over the past few months, however, trains have been denying her entry owing to her unvaccinated status.
After getting their first jab, Julie and six other members of the trans community are hopeful they will be allowed on the trains again.
But it’s not just the trains. Some transgender persons do not have Aadhaar cards, and are therefore unaccounted for. Others had the card made before their gender affirmation surgery, and it reflects their former name, gender and identity.
“There is a very strong community of transgenders in Kerala and Karnataka who are supported by government welfare schemes,” Julie said. “Getting an Aadhar card made according to their new identity is a seamless process there. In Goa, we are neither recipients of such benefits nor are there awareness drives to explain to transgenders the pros and cons of taking the vaccine.”
More than the transgenders that make ends meet by begging, it is those transgenders that engage in the sex trade that are hesitant to get vaccinated.
Now, the organisation Arz is assisting the community in Goa to get vaccinated by helping them to access documents and providing counselling to address fears about vaccination. In some cases, the organisation even accompanies them to the vaccination centre to ensure that they do not suffer any stigma or discrimination.
“We have intervened at the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) level to ensure that transgenders receive proper documentation, and also to see if special facilities can be created for them to take the vaccine,” said Arz director Arun Pandey.
Courtesy : TOI
Note: This news piece was originally published in thetimesofindia.com and use purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights objectives.