Panama’s COVID-19 Lockdown is Terrorizing Trans people

Panama has banned women and men from appearing in public on the same day. The decree enforced by police ID checks has the country’s transgender community fearing for their welfare.

Already under a near-total lockdown, Panamanian authorities decreed this week that men could only leave home to go shopping on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with women allowed to do so on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

The problem being is that Panamanian transgender people must undergo Gender Confirmation Surgery(GCS) before applying for a new ID indicating their correct gender.

The state-mandated trans gendercide policy leaves most Pannimanian trans people without correct identities.

This mandate, possibly inadvertently, targets and terrorizes the gender diverse. Instead of getting tested and seeking medical care, trans people are being forced into hiding which is equivariant to Nazi tactics which killed millions.

Ali, a 25-year-old illustrator who works as a tattoo artist is a transgender man, but his identity card states he’s a woman.

“My biggest fear, obviously, is the police, who aren’t trained or sensitized to this subject and I don’t know what attitude they will take with me,” he told AFP.

“I’m 100 percent sure I’ll be stopped in the street and seeing as I don’t fit the mold … I don’t know if they’ll be aggressive. That’s what scares me,” added Ali.

The Association of New Men and Women of Panama, which defends LGBT+ rights in the Central American country, said the measures had caused “dread.”

“There are still police patrols who use the argument that God only created Adam and Eve,” association president Ricardo Beteta told AFP. “What does a transgender person do in this situation?”

Panama is not the only Latin American country to have taken this measure, with Peru announcing an identical policy on Thursday. However, in Peru transgender may apply for a gender marker change without the need for sex reassignment surgery.

Hombres Trans Panamá wrote “In Panama, there is still no law that protects gender identity which is a clear violation of human rights. Panama has indicated that during the quarantine, transgender people must present according to the gender marker indicated in their ID. However, there are known cases where trans people have been denied access to food and medicine since their appearance does not match the gender indicated in their ID.”

Hombres Trans Panamá posted this google doc link for people to report incidents of mistreatment, detention, or mockery despite adhering to the gender rules.

According to epidemic-stats.com as of 4/4/2020 Panama has 1673 infected people, 42 deaths (2.5%) with 10 recoveries.

There is hope though. The graph indicates a recent downward rate of infections and deaths, so hopefully the draconian albeit discriminatory restrictions are having a positive effect. Let us also hope that the government, will cease this trans discriminatory policy.

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