We live in the most aggrandised time in which this world has exalted itself not only with technological advancement but political affability. And of course all these advancements denotes intellectual sophistication of its residents. This seems so perfectly synchronized with the perfection. But the reality is a bit different then what it ought to be. We actually live in the most abased moment of eternity in which this world has been so squeezed for humanity that it has almost crushed it; the humanity. Either it has lost humanity or it has given whole of the humanity in each and every person’s hand to play with it. And playing with it is the only play we are best at. We play with humans, their lives, their emotion, feeling, happiness. This loathsome play has cost us a lot even then we don’t stop playing it.
Of all the victims of this abhorrence, Transgenders (TG) are the most marginalized ones. They are the ones who have, somehow, accepted their fate of being disgusted and invisibilised. They are neither accepted by their families nor by the society. This community has already been fighting with physical, intellectual and emotional disparity and this precarity has added up to their problematisation and already complex forms of discrimination faced by them.
The term transgender (TG) was first coined in 1971. Transgenderism is caused by the hormonal alteration of the brain and nervous system of the fetus in the womb. This process is as natural and uncontrollable as a birth of a ‘normal’ baby.
According to recent research studies conducted on transgenderism, approximately one out of 50 children are identified with a transgender tendency/potential. In other words, about two percent population of Pakistan is affected by transgenderism. They largely depend on a livelihood of singing and dancing at weddings and birth celebrations.
The 2015 country Progress Report prepared by the National AIDs control program under a UNAIDs/UNDP funded surveillance project mentions a conservative estimate of the TG population to be somewhere around 150,000, out of which only 18.06 per cent of the transgender population is registered with country’s database authority under third sex category. This keeps them from being an authentically authorized national of Pakistan.
In 2015, 21 deaths of transgender people were tracked by advocates due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded. They are sexually assaulted, financially exploited and physically used. Our society leaves no stone unturned to make this community as uncomfortable as we can.
While their rights are guaranteed on paper, members of the transgender community say they do not have these rights in practice and provincial welfare departments have yet to implement Supreme Court’s decision
There is an inborn fear of the TGs amongst the “normal people” and this fear is inflicted since childhood. Pakistani parents are so insecure that they believe it’s inappropriate for their child to interact with a transgender hence developing this feeling of reluctance towards them. TGs are considered so degraded that they aren’t even allowed to live in a regular community but in secluded areas with the community of their own kind, often in intense poverty. While travelling via Metro Bus in Islamabad I noticed that if transgender enter the bus they would never be given seat, neither with men nor women.
Furthermore, there is no government aid and support system to help these individuals living a normal life. In case of any criminal victimization or even sexual harassment, these individuals get no help/ support from the community or government institutions. This probably shows negligence of government from their responsibility to protect their citizens.
Though things have started getting slightly better, not on societal level but on governmental level, which can be reflected in the marriage Fatwa and funds allocated to them.
In last elections, many transgender in Pakistan wrote the history by casting their vote to choose their political representative. This decision of Supreme Court was successfully presided by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. However, while their rights are guaranteed on paper, members of the transgender community say they do not have these rights in practice and provincial welfare departments have yet to implement the decision but at least government has started to play its part in this responsibility but if we won’t do anything on our own this little spark will cease to exist.
Today, we need more of humanity than anything else and humanity requires recognition and equality. Recognition, not of cast, creed or status but recognition of being very human. A human who has every right to be what he/she is, who has freedom of speech, freedom of living life at its fullest, freedom of following one’s own customs, traditions and values. We need to create a world where one does not have to pretend to be someone that he/she is not. The day we create this world, we will come up to the definition of “Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqaat” (Superior of all Creation), which is becoming obsolete from our society.
Like any of other human beings, Transgender have every right to be recognized as humans. They are no less because neither they have control over how and what they are nor we. So it’s better to make this world better for them rather than making it a hell. And for that we need to work from grass root level.
So, it is therefore recommended to make vocational training centres for them to give them trainings in order to hone their skills according to their aptitude and interest. Government should develop relevant job schemes for them according to excellence of their skills. There should also be personality building classes for them so that they don’t stand out in society. They should also be given religious education of whichever religion they want to follow. Transgender children should be given equal change to get education. There should be awareness campaigns at all school and college level in order to alter their perspective about TG and make them acceptable. There should be rigorous penalty and punishment for those who try to give away their child if identified with a transgender tendency/potential.
Achieving positive peace seems utopian but being human if we get to know our powers of making world peaceful for others, we will be proud with gratification. Giving recognition to the unrecognised ones, giving respect to disrespected, providing life to the lifeless ones is the ultimate cause of humanity. The unrecognised, disrespected and lifeless ones exist if we make difference for them, and we too exist if we make difference for them.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.