Discrimination Against Transgenders In Pakistan

(iqra anis, Karachi)

One of the most sensitive social issues of Pakistan is discrimination and violence against the transgender community. Transgenders, also known as the “third” gender, are considered an abomination by the society. Transgenders are frowned upon and are considered as degenerates, being treated as if they are not even human. Transgenders represent a group of people who enjoy the least amount of respect and rights in Pakistan.

Due to the controversial nature and the typical uptight and backward mindset of people, the subject of transgender rights in Pakistan is not even discussed in the sophisticated and literate part of the community. The transgender community has been rebuked all over Pakistan and is not even considered as equals to the other members of the society.

As a society fostering a number of stereotypical taboos and inhumane norms, the Pakistani transgender society has always been the sufferer of oppression and skepticism. There is an inborn fear of the transgenders amongst the “normal people” and this fear is inflicted since childhood. Pakistani parents are insecure and believe it’s inappropriate for their child to interact with a transgender hence developing this feeling of reluctance towards them.

I’ve often thought about why there is a general hatred for transgenders in Pakistan. The term carries different implications for different people, but one basic implication is being born and not knowing which gender you belong to.

People say that transgenders can only sing and dance, I wonder who came up with this spiral of degradation. They are not considered equal and forced to live in a segregated society with their own kind in extreme poverty. Most transgenders are illiterate, as the notion of a transgender receiving an education was considered unreal.

Transgenders are subjected to violence in Pakistan. A few months back a transgender activist who fought for the rights of transgenders was shot in Peshawar. KPK transgender alliance coordinator was shot six times and when driven to the hospital the doctors made them wait for an hour trying to figure out whether to shift him to the male ward or female ward, which eventually led to Alisha’s death.

Transgenders are not only subjected to physical violence but sexual harassment and rape as well. Pakistan’s constitution contains laws in written form that safeguard the rights of transgenders but unfortunately, when the time comes to enforce the laws, no as such implementation of these said laws can be seen from the government’s end.

In 2012 NADRA created a third gender in their database to accommodate all transgenders. I believe it is the time the government took some actions to ensure the safety and well-being of all Pakistani transgenders. It’s time we start treating them with respect and equality because they truly deserve it.
As Pakistanis we need to realize that this is not merely a war that these individuals have to fight, they are humans just like us and deserve as much of a right to good education , good job opportunities and fair and equal treatment as any other normal member of the community. We need to be the voice that speaks on their behalf, fights for their rights and makes living less painful for them.

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