Kashmir’s Neglected Genderqueer’s

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SRINAGAR: Hit hard by the subsequent lockdowns since 2019, Kashmir’s genderqueer community has been bearing the brunt with families already having abandoned most of them. Genderqueers are people not subscribing to conventional gender distinctions but identify with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

A group of transgenders receive food kits distributed by the Army as part of the COVID-19 mitigation process in Srinagar on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Army extended them some help on Tuesday. They were assembled in a city park where the soldiers distributed food packets among them.

A genderqueer waiting for his turn to collect the food kits in Srinagar surrounded by other members who have already been provided with the kits. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The main source of earning for the genderqueer community has been affected by the ongoing Covid19 induced restrictions on weddings to just under 25 people and also the absence of musical events on weddings. They are mostly into match-making and participate in the celebrations on marriages. Some of them sing at the marriages.

The army personnel distributing food kits to genderqueers through volunteers while following the social distancing norms in Srinagar on May 25, 2021. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Kashmir’s genderqueer community has been conspicuous on the ground while just 477 people registered themselves as “transgender” in Kashmir in the 2011 census fearing social ostracisation.

The group of transgender people after receiving the food kits by the armed forces in Srinagar on May 25, 2021. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

As per the NGOs working for the welfare of the community, the genderqueers have stayed away from vaccination so far. The hesitancy among them is not due to any science but fear of being jeered at. They live a sort of isolated life in rented rooms, which lacks the basics of living.

The genderqueers displaying the contents of the food kits distributed to them by the army on May 25, 2021, in Srinagar. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Also, the Jammu and Kashmir government doesn’t have any policy to reach out to the community or create separate vaccination centres. The last government had recognised their existence and listed them for free rations.

Genderqueers, who are matchmakers also, have been asking the government to get them inoculated first because they visit people’s houses frequently for their work. Reports in the media said that some NGOs had started working to extend help to them by way of rations.

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