We often refer to transgenders as the third male/female status. The transgenders in Pakistan are actually intersex people. Intersex people are those who are born with both male and female organs. So in this blog, I will use the term transgender for intersex people. It is for the better understanding of the Pakistani community.
Cisgenders are the opposites of transgenders. They believe they are the same sex as the sex doctors assigned them at birth. They form less than 1% of the total population of the world.
Issues of transgenders
We ignore the transgenders in Pakistan from every walk of life. A transgender in Pakistan is facing plenty of issues on the grassroots level. They range from social to money-based and legal problems. They face unfair treatment issues at workplaces and in healthcare centers. Lack of access to education leads them to practice unhealthy activities. They start to take part in sex work and alcohol use. They are at high risk of violence, both physical and mental. People take away basic human rights from them. The transgenders in Pakistan face some of the main issues mentioned below.
Exclusion from the social life
They are often called different and avoided by the community. Their families are unwilling to accept them, so they disown them. They face unfair treatment from the government and society. People socially separate transgenders because most believe they are not acting like others. It puts them under stress, fear, and depression. Plus, people give them a poor label that causes rejection by others. It puts the life of a transgender in Pakistan at the edges of the community.
Basic human rights of transgenders in Pakistan
People take away the basic rights that other people who lawfully live have from them. Transgenders cannot get quality education, employment opportunities, and healthcare facilities. They can not get a place to live and sleep. The transgenders in Pakistan face a lot of money-based issues. Because of their restrictions on managing money, they are often involved in sex work to make a living. As they cannot get a quality education, employment opportunities are unavailable.
Transgenders also face teasing and repeated threats in workplaces. A transgender in Pakistan faces issues to find a place to live and sleep. It is because people think of them as disrespectful and disgraced people. They usually live in groups for their survival and protection. Unfortunately, good) enough healthcare facilities are also not available for transgenders. People insult them by imitating and criticizing them everywhere they go. They cannot live healthy life because of social pressure. It’s also because of how people act toward them and their unfair treatment.
Transgenders face teasing, threats, and mistreatment from the community. They are physically and mentally hurt and blamed by the community. They face violence, complete separation, torture, and even cold and cruel murder. This mean and unfair treatment often leads to suicidal attempts. People subject transgenders in Pakistan to prostitution and theft through threats. They also get involved in moving things illegally from one place to another.
A transgender in Pakistan starts unprotected sex, which puts their lives in danger. Sex work in unhealthy surrounding conditions increases their chances of HIV or AIDS. Because of their involvement in sex work, trans women also fall victim to gang rapes. Many transgenders start alcohol and get involved in the dangerous overuse of drugs. Some transgenders in Pakistan resort to self-harm and make suicidal attempts.
Abuse and mistreatment
The transgenders in Pakistan are also at a high risk of unfair sexual treatment and abuse. It is because people believe them to be easy targets for the community. Not only are they physically abused at large, but people abuse them through their speech. We find unfair sexual treatment to be higher in young transgenders. People sexually attack them at workplaces and cannot work. The community uses transgenders for profit. People believe them to be a source of entertainment.
So, they insult, imitate, and criticize them everywhere. For survival, trans women and trans youth switch to sex work, which leads to higher cases of HIV in Pakistan. A transgender in Pakistan is likely to be subject to forced prostitution. Over the last few years, we have seen many cases in Pakistan. They involve prostitution, forced sex, moving things illegally, and rape. Extreme, very mean, and unfair treatment of transgenders leads to violent murders.
The transgenders in Pakistan lack legal recognition. It does not entitle them to the basic rights practiced by the other people of Pakistan. There is the Trans Protection Act of 2018 that reserves the rights of transgenders. But it is not in practice in Pakistan. Educational institutions, workplaces, and healthcare centers do not legally recognize them. Transgender can get something valuable when their older relatives die. But people do not give any property rights to transgender in Pakistan.
In 2018, the government passed the Transgenders Protection of Rights Act. People believe this bill to be one of the world’s most worthy of compliments and progressive acts.
I have mentioned the main points of this act below.
- It allows transgenders to choose their male or female status.
- It gives transgenders in Pakistan a legal state where all things are equal.
- It prohibits unfair treatment in schools, at work, on public transit, etc.
- It allows them to take part in driving licenses. They can get passports as well.
- It reserves the right to vote.
- It allows a transgender in Pakistan to run for office as well.
- It gives them the right to get something valuable when their older relatives die.
- It charged heavy punishments and penalties for teasing and threatening them.
- It obligates the government to establish protection centers and safe houses.
- It bounds the government to build separate halls, prisons, and jails.
- It allows transgenders to be counted in the official count.
Attempts for transgenders
In 2018, the Government passed Transgenders Act which reserves and protects their rights. The former government attempted to improve the lives of transgenders in Pakistan. The basis of these attempts was to uplift the living standards of transgenders. In 2020, they got the right to get driving licenses in Pakistan. The government declared it would include them in the official count three years ago.
In 2017, they could get passports according to their transgender identity. It allows them to travel around the world and admit, recognize and respond to their identity. The government opened the first state-paid-for school for trans-women in 2021. A transgender in Pakistan could join the police force in Pakistan for the very first time. In 2020, the Pakistani media, for the first time, hired a transgender person.
We can listen to their stories and face or deal with their challenges. We can support making changes at the policy level for their welfare. The community can spread information about them in Pakistan. By organizing rallies and protests, we can raise information about them. We can write letters to the Govt. focusing on their needs.
In Pakistan, people disgrace them. Even their parents do not recognize them. The average transgender in Pakistan also faces these issues because the community is slow and unwilling to accept them. It makes it very hard for them to live a cheerful, trouble-free, and healthy life. In Pakistan, we punished them for an uncommitted crime. We need to admit that they are a part of our community. They deserve equal rights like anyone else in Pakistan. There is a terrible need to change the viewpoint and behavior of people.
Author: Dr Tahira Rubab Hafeez
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