The transgender community is a severely marginalized community in Pakistan. No proper records exist but it is estimated that there are 500,000 transgenders in a population of 190 million. Not only have they been struggling to be granted basic civil rights but also acceptance, respect and opportunities. The lack of these things forces the transgenders in Pakistan to live in secluded areas and groups. They face severe poverty and resort to singing, dancing, begging or prostitution to make ends meet. However, in the recent years, there have been some changes that seemed like a ray of light.
Changes For The Betterment of Transgenders
- 2009: Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex. This allowed transgenders to get identity cards mentioning a third gender for the first time.
- 2011: They were granted the right to vote.
- 2012: They were awarded the right to register as a third gender on their national ID cards. The Supreme Court also declared equal rights for transgender citizens including the right of inheritance after the death of parents, job opportunities, free education and health care.
- 2013: Four transgenders including Bindia Rana stood up in the elections for the first time ever.
- January, 2017: It was announced that the transgender community will be part of the 2017 census.
- June, 2017: The government issued its first third-gender passport to a transgender activist, Farzana Riaz, in Peshawar. Riaz, 30, is the co-founder and president of rights organization TransAction.
- Apart from these governmental measures, several non-government bodies and activists are also attempting to improve the living conditions of the transgender community. Such groups include the Gender Interactive Alliance.
The Media Plays Its Part, Too
Additionally, the media industry has been trying to showcase the plight of the transgenders through a few short films and shows. In 2016, for the first time in the history of Pakistani TV, a drama serial called Khuda Mera Bhi Hai was aired. It was solely about a transgender’s life in the Pakistani society. It aimed to highlight the difficulties faced by transgenders and how the society makes their survival close to impossible. The serial definitely helped people understand their situation by showing the story from the other side of the bridge. Accordingly, it was a huge success:
The Ground Reality, However, is Still Troublesome
On the other hand, the transgender community is still struggling to have a normal life in this country. Time and again there have been incidents of violence against them. To make matters worse, they are often refused help from paramedical staff, hospitals and even the police. A couple of days ago, a young man named Faris Qureshi revealed a disturbing video of transgender harassment on Facebook.
Transgender Harassment on Eid in Murree
Faris, who is from Islamabad, was in Murree for his Eid holidays. He, like many other tourists, was outdoors when he came across a mob of people who were cornering and harassing two transgenders who were present there. Here’s the video:
Faris wrote, “I have tried my best to capture the scenes of intense harassment of two transgender people by dozens of retarded ass hol** last evening – second day of Eid at Mall Road in Murree Hills. These illiterate morons were constantly following them, harassing, making fun of them, passing negative comments and staring at them constantly. God knows from which part of the country they came for holidays but they made it unendurable for these trans people to witness the Mall Road and do shopping on this day of religious festival.
This video is a clear picture that how the transgender people are being treated in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Although they have all the legal rights but the society has deep-rooted hatred for sexual minorities.
P.S. these goons were not locals. All of them were tourists.”
Negative Reactions Poured In
Exclusive Interview With Daily Punch
Did Anyone Step Forward to Help Them?
Then he shared the following pictures: