The Manipur government has set up dedicated quarantine centres for stranded members of the transgender community who are returning to the state amid a nationwide lockdown.
Ngangom Uttam, Director, Social Welfare Department Manipur, in a statement, said two separate quarantine spaces, including a dedicated centre for the trans community have been set up in Imphal — this is possibly the first such instance in the country.
The centre is located at the Government Blind School, Takyelpat in Imphal West district and can accommodate 24 persons. “This facility will accommodate the trans community coming from ‘green zones’,” he said.
In addition, a separate wing at the institutional quarantine centre at Maria Montessori School, Koirengei in Imphal East district has been opened to accommodate those coming from ‘red zones’.
Uttam said the government decided to set up separate quarantine centres for the transgender community so as to ensure them emotional security during the pandemic.
“We have come across some instances where transgenders, who have returned to the state recently, have faced inconvenience when accommodated in quarantine centres together either with male and female occupants,” said the director.
Following requests by the community, the health department decided to take action.
The move was welcomed by the state’s transgender community. “The remarkable bit is that Manipur is the first state to do this in the entire region of Northeast India,” said Shanta Khurai, secretary All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMANA), a prominent association fighting for trans community rights in Manipur. “AMANA would like to express our warm gratitude towards the state for having listened to the needs of the trans community and taken immediate positive action.”
From Friday, transgenders who were housed at different community quarantine centres in the state, will be transferred to the designated centres. About 50 have contacted AMANA so far.
While the current capacity can house up to 40 transgenders, it may be enhanced as per requirement. They can also be quarantined at the community quarantine centres managed by local authorities provided a separate block is allocated.
Khurai also said that the two centres will have Wifi facilities. The inmates will be provided with mental health counselling at the centres, she added.
“When we talk about COVID-19 pandemic, we generally focus on the shortage of food, jobs etc. But we have failed to address the most important thing which is mental health. The trans community is already a vulnerable lot when it comes to mental health — and now they have to deal with COVID-19 too,” said Khurai.