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Transgender Kashmiris, Left Without Livelihood Amid Pandemic, Help One Another to Survive

Transgender Kashmiris, Left Without Livelihood Amid Pandemic, Help One Another to Survive

A member of the transgender community gets a dose of the Covishield Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a health centre in Chennai on May 20. (Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images)

By DAR YASIN/Associated Press

SRINAGAR — Singing and dancing at weddings used to earn Khushi Mir enough income to take care of her family. Until the pandemic.

Lockdowns to curb the coronavirus in Indian-controlled Kashmir canceled weddings and musical evenings. Bills for Mir’s rented accommodation mounted.

Unable to pay, 19-year-old Mir took a job as a construction worker for 15 days. It paid $9.60 a day but left Mir’s hands bruised and skin peeling.

“I had no other option,” Mir said. “I needed to provide for my family.”

Mir is transgender — belonging to a marginalized community in Indian-controlled Kashmir whose members are often only able to find work as matchmakers or wedding entertainment.

Prolonged coronavirus lockdowns, preceded by a strict security lockdown in the region in 2019 when India scrapped Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, left many in the transgender community with no work at all.

Left without livelihoods, some stepped up to help each other.

Mir and four others made a volunteer group to distribute food. So far, they have provided ration kits for nearly 220 people, many of them makeup artists, singers and matchmakers who have lost their livelihoods during the pandemic.

See photo essay here: https://bit.ly/2TCEK9e.

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