Trans Folks in Lockdown

Kia ora e te whaanau, we hope you are all safe and sound during lockdown (level 4 alert for Covid-19). We have compiled some information to help you get through this difficult time.

Though all our upcoming events, monthly socials, drop in days, and office hours are currently on hold, we are still available by email (cleared daily) and by mobile phone (10am – 6pm weekdays), and you are welcome to join our peer to peer infoshare group on social media Transgender and Intersex NZ – it’s the largest trans forum in Aotearoa with over 1,400 members. Your partner, parents, whanau, and supporters are welcome to join it as well. Please remember to answer all three of the joining questions and read the kaupapa in the pinned post.

Health information

Services are operating slightly differently in different regions, but you can access your medical records, manage clinical appointments, get support, and more by registering for Manage My Health, here.

The government has a website specifically to give you factual information on Covid-19, this is available here.

The Ministry of Health has a website here, with info about the total number of confirmed cases, recovered cases, and more. There is also information and advice specifically for elderly people, people with disabilities, caregivers, and other specific populations available here.

You can contact OutLine counseling services if you need to talk with a counselor.
You can also contact Healthline here if you have any concerns about your health, or if you symptoms of Covid-19, which include coughing, difficulty breathing, and a temperature over 38 degrees.

There is further information here from PATHA – the Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa.

All Right from MoH has resources on staying connected here. They also have info specifically for kids in lockdown here.

You can also see MoH’s Melon website here, with self care resources and tips for during lockdown.

Just a Thought has info and courses for supporting your mental health.


wage subsidy

You can apply for a wage subsidy if you are a contractor (including a sex worker), a sole trader, self employed, and under a number of other circumstances. This is a one page form, and asks for contact details, your IRD number, and very little else. You do not have to repay this as long as you meet the requirements. More information about this can be found here.

WINZ payments

WINZ payments will not be stopped during lockdown, regardless of whether you miss an appointment, your medical certificate expires, or any other circumstance.

There is usually a 2 week stand down period for all benefit applications.

Additionally, if you stop working in a job you could technically have kept doing, and apply for a job seekers benefit (rather than a wage subsidy), there is an additional stand down of 12 weeks, unless the job you are stopping is sex work. For sex workers, there is no additional stand down.

You can register for MyMSD here, where you can view your information, see your applications, and update your details.

trans sex workers and tax

Many sex workers do pay tax and keep records, in which case applying for a job seekers benefit is simple. If you haven’t been paying tax, this guide will provide simple information.

The end of the tax year is March 31st, so the tax you owe for the 2019 – 2020 financial year is due now. However, IRD is very flexible with repayments and is happy to work with you so your repayments are affordable and not stressful.

How it works: If you declare your sex work as, for example, 5 jobs per week at $150 ($750 wk) for 10 months of the year, that’s $30,000 in a year. But if you spent $250 a week on a work room or hotel, then you minus that expense ($10,000) from your taxable income, and if you also brought sheets, towels, massage oil, lingerie, a heater, a fan, advertising, and travel costs (ideally you should have receipts), you should also minus those costs – let’s say another $5,000. That means you only made $15,000 taxable income. So if the tax and ACC levies you owe come to 20%, that’s $3,000 you would owe.

If you’re applying for a benefit of, for example, $300 a week, it would take you 10 weeks to recover the cost of declaring your income and paying your tax and ACC (bearing in mid that you can pay off tax debts at just a few dollars a week). If you’re likely to need the benefit for longer than 10 weeks, it makes financial sense to pay your taxes. Of course it’s also legally what you’re supposed to do, which can take the stress off as well.

We recommend that everyone stays home and no one continues to do in-person work of any kind, but if you do plan to continue to do sex work at all, you can declare a job per week at $150 with minimal impact on your benefit, as around $80 of additional income doesn’t affect your benefit, and the other $70 only reduces your benefit by about 20 cents per dollar (about $14 in our example). The more you earn the higher the number of cents per dollar your benefit is reduced by.

Download the IR3 tax return guidebook here.
Register here for MyIR – where you can view your tax details, see payments you owe or refunds owing to you, update your details, and more.

Housing

Decent housing is a human right, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing recently said that as such, NZ has not just a housing crisis but a human rights crisis.

The Minister of Finance announced on 23 March 2020 a freeze of rent increases and protections against tenancy terminations. This means that property investors (such as landlords) cannot raise the price of rent during level 4 alert. It also means that you cannot be evicted ‘without cause’, including being up to 59 days in rent arrears. It does not mean that you can stop paying rent – any rent you can’t pay now will likely have to be repaid at a later time. Advice to landlords is to work with tenants so they can be secure during lockdown and into the future. You can find out more information for tenants and landlords on the tenancy services website here.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has information available here.

The Ministry of Health has info here for providers of emergency housing and hotel staff.

leaving the house

During level 4 alert (lockdown) you are required to stay at home with the people you live with and not leave the property except for essential services, or to deliver essential goods to someone who can’t get these for themself, or to go to work if you are an essential service worker. Essential services include supermarkets, doctors, dairies, vets, pet stores, emergency services and Police, rubbish collection, petrol stations, internet services, and pharmacies. You are allowed to go out for a walk in your local area, as long as you keep a 2 meter distance from anyone who is not in your household, and do not visit playgrounds. You can find more information here.

Every time someone leaves your property, or ‘quarantine bubble’, there is a risk that if they have Covid-19, they will transmit it to others, or that Covid-19 will be transmitted to them. Even if they maintain a 2 meter distance from others, and everyone wears a face mask and gloves, they might still touch a surface which is contaminated or come into contact with airborne droplets of Corvid-19 and bring that contamination back to their quarantine bubble.

Decontamination protocol

The virus is live for up to 24 hours on paper, cardboard, and soft furnishings, and up to 72 hours on hard surfaces like plastic and metal.

Hand washing: Scrub , rinse, and dry your hands well and often, especially after touching anything outside our quarantine bubble – including your mailbox! Use hot water and soap, wash for 20 seconds, then rinse and dry.

Sanitizing your hands: when you are away from hand washing facilities, use a sanitizer with 70% or higher level of alcohol. You can also carry wet wipes if sanitiser is not available.

Touching your face: do not touch surfaces and then touch your face. Tie long hair back to minimise the risk of touching your face while outside your quarantine bubble. Mucous membranes such as eyes, nose, and mouth are particularly susceptible sites of transmission.

Masks:
a home made cloth mask should be 2 or 3 layers thick, and can be over 50% as effective as a good commercial mask.

Touching surfaces: what surfaces are you touching? Mailbox, car keys, steering wheel, door handles, ATM, products in the grocery store, shopping trolley, etc. Clean or sanitize your hands frequently.

Decontaminating your clothing and body: Decontaminating when you arrive back to your home or quarantine bubble is important. This includes leaving your shoes outside, changing your clothes, and showering, before touching people or surfaces in your household, to remove any droplets of Covid-19 which you may have come into contact with.

Bringing in items from outside your bubble: If you are bringing home bags or boxes of groceries, either put these in a quarantine area (eg in your laundry) to decontaminate for 72 hours, or alternatively unpack these and wash any washable items – including hard fruit and peelable fruit – in soapy water for 20 seconds. Bags should be put in the trash or paper bags and boxes burned. Frozen items should be washed if possible, or removed from packaging and the packaging discarded, as the virus can survive a much longer time in the freezer.

Petitions

You can sign the petition for Universal Basic Income here.
Here is the Emergency Housing Plan petition.