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Ahead of the Transgender Day of Remembrance “Right Side” Human Rights Defender NGO once again speaks with Trans people during the series of interviews with Trans people and sex workers. Our interviewee was Trans sex worker Mila Banks who moved to Yerevan from a region to live with her Trans friend: “one of the reasons to live in Yerevan is to avoid from discrimination.”
To the question whether there has ever been violence against her during her life, Mila answers that there has not occurred any kind of violence that is important for her, “otherwise, there have been one or two situations, which do not need special attention”, – answers Mila.
Speaking about her family Mila mentions: “what about my family members, none of them have ever used any violence against me, they respect me and we have good relations. We realize that people are different”- she finishes her answer by adding that despite all this, she lives alone, and her family members understand that fact.
-However, I have witnessed violence against my roommate. I remember that once during the sex work a client called again with whom they agreed to meet. When the client came, it turned out that he was one of her family members, and he was not alone. They tried to beat my friend, we called the police. The police officer came, calmed down the situation and left. I was insisting that my friend report the incident, but we both knew very well that the case would be terminated.
Speaking of another case of violence, Mila posed for a few minutes as if she was experiencing everything.
-One of the clients stole the passport of my Transgender sex worker roommate. Can you imagine that they come as a client then grab something and leave? We applied to the regional passport department. I would not mention which one but I would like to say that the passport department workers were friendly and supportive towards us. We restored my roommate’s passport without any problem.
Mila did not forget to speak about her difficulties, which were not violence cases right against her, but they are generally the result of conservatism and discrimination.
-During the spread of coronavirus and state of emergency, I had no other job and I had to do sex work. However, the mandatory quarantine made everyone’s work worse, so did mine. The number of my clients decreased so I did not have any clients for days and since I was living for rent, I had to take out a loan to pay the monthly rent for the apartment. I am still repaying the loan. I would like to mention that during that difficult time the “Right Side” NGO supported me by providing financial support. Maybe I would have to take a second loan, if they did not support me.
The “Right Side” Human Rights Defender NGO, working with a number of Trans, LGBIQ + people and sex workers during the spread of COVID-19, has registered hundreds of cases when particularly transgender people have suffered by losing their jobs and not being able to provide the minimum living conditions to themselves. The organization, working actively during the epidemic, has provided social, humanitarian and financial assistance to hundreds of Trans sex workers.
The interview is edited.
Nov 20, 2020 Armenia Yerevan