Marina Kapoor is a Peruvian artist and LGBTQ+ activist living in Lima, Peru. She is a voice for transgender women like herself and is on the front lines of protesting and highlighting the issues transgender women and men face in her country. On April 3, the Peruvian government began instituting efforts to prevent coronavirus from spreading. This led to a restriction of movement by gender.
Men can leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with an ID, while women can do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, meanwhile, the stay-at-home order applies to everyone.
During the announcement of this new restriction, President Martin Vizcarra also made it clear that his plan was to be inclusive and sensitive to everyone. Yet videos have gone viral showing the transphobia that men and women of the LGBTQ+ community are facing when encountering police as they try to purchase essential supplies.
As Kapoor continues to stay in quarantine she remains engaged with her community. This is her story:
“It is a bit complicated and although it is true, I have money saved. But nevertheless, as an activist, I understand that many of my transsexual sisters live day-to-day. I feel privileged to have saved money. . . to be able to survive these days of quarantine. Prices have gone up a bit here in Peru.”
She acknowledges the government has acted promptly in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“I believe that the state has made a good decision by quarantining us all. However many of us are not following the quarantine. We are not being responsible, and we are acting selfishly towards society. The vast majority do the right thing, but there is a percentage that are neglecting these measures.”
Her biggest concerns arose when the new gender specific orders were implemented. Due to her previous encounters with the police, she was afraid government talk of inclusivity would be short-lived.
“For example, where there are five policemen with shields guarding some center of the government and it scares me. I walk around the block to avoid them, or I just cross the street because [they] mumble and mock and speak out loud. As if we were not human.
“I remember that when I was a girl they told me that the police would be my best friend. But when I grew up, I realized that things are not like that and that unfortunately the police do not help transsexual women.”
The biggest concern the LGBTQ+ people — and particularly transexuals face is unemployment. Most transgender men and women do not qualify for the state financial assistance.
“We are considered by the state as vulnerable people, as a vulnerable population. We should see trans women provided with the assistance that was announced that would be given to vulnerable people. But again, since the state does not legally recognize us, many of the girls have not received that assistance.”