NSWP member organisation Trans United Europe – founded to unite the networks of European operating Trans BPOC NGOs and individual BPOC trans activists living and working in Europe – have reported on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Trans BPOC people in Europe through NSWP’s COVID-19 Impact Survey.
Before the pandemic, Trans BPOC sex workers suffered from intersectional injustice centred around racism, transphobia and whorephobia, meaning that they exist in the margins with little access to legal protection and health care. The pandemic has exacerbated this situation with a lack of work and increased policing leaving Trans BPOC sex workers in Europe more vulnerable to poverty, violence, and abuse.
In their survey response, Trans United Europe said, “As police force became more restrictive and policing policies became general all over Europe, trans sex workers became even more vulnerable for increasing of poverty, violence and abuse. Sex work was done in cars and sometimes in house. Housing of more than 100 trans sex workers for example in Paris was normal.”
The organisation pointed out how increased monitoring and policing put undocumented workers at a further disadvantage.
“As community members did not dare to go on the streets because of their undocumented situation, and the possibility to be asked for papers, many were locked up in their houses.”
Government regulations around the world have often been implemented quickly, and guidance is often slow to be translated into other languages, if it is translated at all.
When detailing where the sex worker community response to COVID-19 differed from government advice, Trans United Europe reported that the sex worker community have been stepping in to translate government guidance.
“More sex workers, especially the migrant NGOs, helped translate policies on COVID-19 and the sudden implementation of regulations. As well as helping with papers needed to show to police during lockdown. BPOC and migrant sex work organisations and leaders also gave information on the disease development in plural languages/ translations.”
In the Netherlands, where Trans United Europe are based, sex workers who have registered at the Chamber of Trade and pay taxes are eligible for COVID-19 self-employed support, but this leaves out many unregistered sex workers, and non-EU nationals without papers are also excluded from any financial support.
Trans United Europe make the point that all sex workers should receive support payments, stating:
“Not only the regulated workers – mainly cis women – should be able to access benefit plans. Trans women, migrant and refugees should be able to access help and protective measurements too.”