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Ration and help for transgender people in Calcutta

Distressed over scant savings
(From left) Ministers Chandrima Bhattacharya and Shashi  Panja at a ration distribution drive for the transgender community on Friday

Chandreyee Ghose   |   Calcutta   |   Published 12.04.20, 08:06 PM

Fifty members of the transgender community collected dry ration on Friday as part of an initiative to help them during the lockdown.

The members from across south Calcutta came to Amra Odbhut Cafe — an eatery run by the queer community — in 12 batches to maintain physical distance. A similar drive is scheduled for the community members in north Calcutta next week.

NGO Amitie Trust drew up a list of around 375 members of the transgender community in the state and shared it. “We handed the list to (minister) Shashi Panja,” said Aparna Banerjee of the NGO and a former member of the Transgender Development Board.

A majority of the 4,000-5,000 trans-community members in the city works as sex workers or earn by visiting homes after childbirth. “Many of them have no bank accounts. The prospect of losing out on livelihood for months has left them on the brink of a mental breakdown,” Banerjee said.

On Day I of the distribution, 50 transgender persons were given 5kg rice, 1kg dal, potatoes, soap, cooking oil, biscuits and spices each. “It is enough to last at least two weeks. Most live in clusters with community members so they can share resources,” Banerjee said.

Panja, the minister of state for women and child development and social welfare, was part of the ration distribution. “We were asked by the chief minister to help the distressed,” she said.

Minister of state for health and family welfare Chandrima Bhattacharya, who was also at the programme, said: “We will continue the drive as long as required.”

The members of the transgender community are also being given free mental health counselling and doctor’s advice over the phone. “Many of them require hormonal treatment. Their health issues are getting neglected. So a Hooghly-based unit, Samarth Community Clinic, is offering advice over phone. We are also trying to educate our community members on how to take precautions in future through WhatsApp messages,” Banerjee said.

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