International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is an annual event occurring on March 31st. The purpose of this day is to increase the visibility of transgender people and talk about the discrimination against them.
For the past five years, the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO has repeatedly increased the visibility and needs of transgender people by reducing stigma and discrimination against transgender people.
On the eve of International Transgender Day of Visibility, the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO organizes a public campaign every year to increase the visibility of transgender people.
This time we present a series of interviews with transgender sex workers to understand how the Coronavirus epidemic affects their lives:
“We are barely living until everything is over. I live separately from my parents because my family don’t accept me and now, I have a serious problem. I have accumulated debts, a loan, and I have to pay the house rent and utility bills in the coming days. Every day the home owner calls and reminds me that although the state of the world is not so good right now, the house rent has to be paid, and I am urged to promise every day that I’ll pay in a few days, but I don’t know until when… If at least we could have lived before, now we have been surviving already for a month, we have almost no clients, we only accept them in extreme cases after talking on the phone for a long time, and after the customer leaves we are afraid of being infected but we have no other means of living: both we and our customers are equally scared and that is why the situation of trans people who are sex workers is now extremely grave,” said transgender sex worker N.
“I have returned to my family, but every day I have to tolerate psychological, physical, and other forms of violence that I am no longer able to endure. I think if this goes on for a week or so, I’ll just run away from home, whatever it is, let it be, it’s better to sleep outside than to go through all this one more time,” said transgender woman A.
“I have recently undergone a complicated surgery, I have not recovered yet, I am living alone for rent, I have been separated from my family and living in the city for the past seven years. I have gone through hormone therapy courses the money of which I have worked by doing sex work, during these years I have been subjected to brutal violence, persecution, but this is my life, I want to live like everyone, it is very difficult to live alone at this time, I have not got a job anywhere though I have tried several times, I have been told that I have nothing to do there, now I have only 10,000 AMD, I paid the rest of my money for a month’s flat rent, I don’t know where to find money to pay for the next month’s rent, I don’t know how to buy something to eat, and I have to be honest and say I will be on the street soon as no one offered to help me, whatever I achieved, I did it on my own efforts,” said a transgender woman K.
“Because of my appearance, I was not given an apartment for rent. I have recently found an apartment the rent of which is on a daily basis. If I do not pay the rent one day, they will just kick me out of this apartment. I spend every day praying to God to free us from this evil as soon as possible, in a few days I will have to beg outside to get daily food in order not to starve,” said transgender woman L.
“Often walking down the street I see families giving each other so much warmth, I remember my childhood when my mom and dad by grabbing my hand were walking in the parks, how many happy memories I have; unfortunately, today there is nothing left of these memories, they are no longer with me, I live alone now, cut off from everything and everyone. I moved to Yerevan about 5 years ago, I live alone for rent, I do sex work to live. I was studying, but I left my studies incomplete as I was being beaten, humiliated, I was hardly keeping going on, I was forcing myself to graduate, get my diploma and get lost from the country, but I couldn’t stand the constant violence, ridicule and persecution. My only way of living now is to do sex work, I want to save money and leave. I don’t have any reason to keep me here, I have no state that protects me, helps me, I don’t feel safe here. In my dreams there is a quiet, peaceful life… I go out into the street, I am mocked, I walk in the street, I am ridiculed, my neighbors are discriminate me, it is no longer possible to live here. I don’t know how to live in this apartment on these days, I don’t work to pay the rent, there is no one who can help me get out of this situation, I don’t know my tomorrow,” said transgender sex worker V.
The Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO also reminds that transgender people have always and at all times existed in our society, and in line with the spirit of the present era, once again it calls on all the citizens to show solidarity and respect for sexual and gender minorities by contributing to the strengthening of democracy and the establishment of equality in Armenia.