Around the globe, each year on May 1st we are called upon to reflect and to take action on workers’ rights. This year, COVID-19 makes this call more pressing than ever. On International Workers’ Day, GATE honors all trans, gender diverse and intersex workers worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic is deeply affecting trans, gender diverse and intersex activists’ ability to work. Challenges include isolation, limited access to internet, and extended working hours. In some countries, activists have had to organize against governmental measures aimed to control movement based on strict segregation according to sex assigned at birth or perceived gender identity (e.g. Colombia, Panamá). In other countries, activists have had to mobilize remotely to counteract opportunistic governmental attempts to restrict or eliminate access to human rights (e.g. Hungary, Uganda).
Quarantine and other social distancing measures are having a deeply negative impact on trans, gender diverse and intersex communities, many of whom were already living in poverty. Unemployment, unsafe or lack of housing, evictions, exposure to family rejection and other forms of domestic violence, and exposure to stigma and discrimination in healthcare services are just some of the issues exacerbated by this global pandemic. Among those most affected are migrant workers, sex workers and any other workers dependent on the informal economy. Many informal workers’ income have effectively been cut off as a result of global lockdown measures, and many have been denied essential living support, such as food and shelter, due to their migrant or sex worker/informal worker status, or gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
Restricted mobility and increased control enforced by armed forces exposes trans, gender diverse and intersex people to institutional violence, making it more difficult or impossible to access essential medication and procedures (including, for example, HIV medication, gender affirming hormones and essential surgeries).
In these challenging times, we express our sincere appreciation for the hard work of donors in securing additional funding and other forms of support for our movements.
We encourage trans, gender diverse and intersex workers globally to report any violations they have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, using GATE’s reporting form.