Supporting Transgender People during the COVID-19 Crisis - The #YouthOfUNESCO Story of Manuel

With the unfolding of the COVID-19 crisis and the roll-out of restrictive measures, vulnerable groups and minorities around the world have faced considerable challenges that made them suffer more than others. In particular, the ongoing pandemic has amplified already existing stigma and discrimination towards the transgender community.


Manuel (27) from Argentina is a young activist and the co-founder of “Impacto Digital” – a non-profit organization that develops technological solutions to tackle social issues from a human rights perspective. During the COVID-19 pandemic, transgender people in Latin America found themselves in challenging times. Social distancing and preventive measures had a significant impact on their lives, as it is causing them to suffer from social inequalities. To generate alternative solutions and contribute to solving the problem of transgender discrimination, Manuel decided to step up with a set of inspiring actions.


“In Argentina, transgender discrimination is a crucial topic to be addressed. Stigmatization, social exclusion and unemployment make life of a transgender individual even tougher and more complicated than it is for the rest of population. To begin with, the life expectancy of a transgender person is markedly short, especially compared to other life expectancy numbers, which already presents a significant issue for them, especially when it comes to the question of seizing life opportunities. Another huge problem is unemployment, which is relevantly high and reaches around 90%, especially among transgender women within the country. Moreover, even if transgender people got a chance to be integrated into professional life, they often earn their incomes through the informal sector and irregular work. In Argentina, transgender women frequently find themselves working as sex workers, appearing as the only solution to earn money to support themselves and provide for their medical needs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictive measures, they were denied the opportunity to work. As a consequence, they lost their source of income and couldn’t afford basic necessities anymore. This period was also very complicated for them psychologically, especially because of the exacerbated exclusion they sometimes experienced. In order to contribute to solving this quite difficult social problem, we’ve been partnering with various organizations, foundations and individual donors to develop fundraising campaigns at the national level. As of now, we are working with a local network called “Teje Solidario”, which is supporting more than 600 transgender people, providing mainly basic food supplies, as well as legal and psychological assistance.



Another inspiring initiative that Manuel is implementing within the “Impacto Digital” non-profit organization is the “Hire Transgender” (Contratá Trans) training programme, aimed at helping companies in Argentina to implement inclusive policies and provide more transgender people with decent jobs.


“One of the biggest programmes that we have been working on for the past two years is “Hire Transgender” (Contratá Trans), which aims to end the transgender discrimination in the workplace across Argentina. This year, we were planning to relaunch this programme, making it even more operational and useful. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, we had to find new ways to make that happen. With the support of the United Nations Population Fund and UNAIDS, using the power of technologies and social media, we readapted the programme which helped us to reach even more people than we’d initially planned. To help companies implement the inclusion policy in the recruitment process, we have created a new training programme, which  offers an online 4-modules course, addressing the situation of transgender people in the community, the questions of gender identity and sexual orientation as well as “do and don’ts” of workplace etiquette. During our first session, we gathered more than 7 000 people, who showed a real interest in participating and contributing to this training programme. This gave us huge visibility and allowed us to contact thousands of companies and their senior management. We initiated the process of the programme implementation to achieve inclusivity and equality of rights when it comes to the recruitment process of transgender people. Thanks to our programme and despite the huge recession in Argentina, for the past 2 months,  we have managed to find jobs for 8 transgender people, and we are planning to double this number in the coming weeks. Moreover, we’re also aiming at expanding the programme into more countries in Latin America next year.”

Even though the spread of COVID-19 is gaining momentum in Latin America, making it even more difficult for local populations to handle, Manuel believes that this time can also be seen as an opportunity for social change through innovations and digital technologies.


“The key takeaway of this pandemic is that you have to learn fast. Even though you might have great plans for the future, sometimes things don’t go the way you’ve expected. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis is going to hit hard on people who are already in a bad position. This the reason why you have to be innovative and creative and adapt quickly to whatever new circumstances occur. We believe that technology and disruptive digital solutions can be a valuable tool to fight injustice in the current system and help to promote inclusivity and resilience, especially for those who need it the most.”