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The Express Tribune/Pak News

Published Date: Feb 13, 2014

Transgender want to be recognized as third gender, says Almas Bobby

Transgender in
Pakistan do not want separate schools, hospitals or vocational
institutes. They just want to be recognised as a ‘third’ gender in
Pakistan, said Almas Bobby, president of the Transgender Foundation
Pakistan.

Almas Bobby was addressing a seminar on
‘Acceptance & Opportunities for Transgender in Pakistan’ at the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Ms Bobby said
that social acceptance of transgender should be done at community level.
However, if shy of giving equal rights, she did not mind housing
societies taking courage to have adopting apartheid-like separate
schools, institutes or hospitals for transgender. She appreciated the
suo motto action of Supreme Court of Pakistan providing transgender
identity cards. It is a great responsibility on our community, she said,
to prove ourselves with respect and dignity.

She said
“Inflation and corruption forced many amongst us to choose the wrong
path but we are loving people who need love, respect and dignity.” She
asked people to “change their attitude towards us and the government
should focus to provide us with equal rights to education and work
opportunities like any other citizen of the country."

Muhammad Majid Bashir, senior advocate, briefed on the laws for transgender in Pakistan.

In
2011, he said, the Supreme Court took up a step for transgender
community to allow a third gender category on national identity cards, a
legal share of family inheritance, a reserved 2% quota of jobs in all
sectors and the right to vote in elections. However, he said, these
rights were already present in the Constitution and SC simply identified
those rights for transgender. Social acceptability is required for
strengthening these rights, which are extremely lacking, he observed.

Riffee
Khan, representative from the Gender Interactive Alliance, Pakistan,
said “The Sindh government employed three transgender persons as
full-time employees and luckily I am one of them.” Further, she
explained, the endless support of her family which was helpful for her
to achieve double master’s degrees in Pakistan. “Unfortunately,
transgender in Pakistan have to face brutal discrimination in jobs, not
to mention the limited access to education and state protection. They
are easy victims of violence and have no option left but to indulge in
immoral activities for survival,” she said.

Ms Khan said that according to Article 25 of the Constitution all Pakistanis have equal rights without any classifications.

Jannat
Ali, project manager of the Khawaja Sira Society, Lahore, focused on
the needs to be catered by the government and civil society for
transgender for a civilised living adding that with such initiatives,
they are opening up space for themselves as productive citizens in a
society, showing their strengths and proving themselves functional
rather than relying on help by government or NGOs. Further, she also
introduced Chand Literacy Society which is providing free education to
transgender and also offering them work opportunities.