Beautifully Equal

How many of us are fully aware of the struggles of the transgender population?

By Mahreen Nazar | August 2022

Imagine for a moment that your child is born with Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Think about their whole life, the trauma and the future. Would you be able to support them and provide them a safe space like every other child? Can they expect to live normal lives with the respect they deserve? Would they spend their entire lives seeking validation from society? Does the thought give you goose bumps and scare you to the core?

In theory, Pakistan’s Parliament passed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2018 to protect the rights of transgender and give them a legal identity. However, its implementation still lacks acceptance because only a law cannot disassemble years of stigma and prejudice. This is exactly why transphobia needs to be addressed and fought. The battle is not just for their rights but also for the acceptance of more than just sexual orientation. In Pakistan, a population of 10,418 has been identified as transgender. We know how incorrect this figure is and shows how helpless the community is. If we do not even know the ratio, how can we even contribute towards the betterment of transgender people?

The unacceptability and uneasiness that we have with Gender Dysphoria is uncalled for. Words like “chikna, chakka, maal” are just a part of daily life. They grow up with judgemental eyes around them, starting from their own families mostly. They are disrespected, disowned and dishonoured at every point of their life. We are uneasy around them when they come to us and beg at traffic signals. We feel uncomfortable when we see their dances with our family members, but have we thought what options have we left for them other than being beggars, dancers and sex slaves?

Many of us would point out now that they have an identity, they get their CNICs, so they can move and work freely. But deep inside we all know that the change needs to come from within and we are not there yet. They are still victims of rape, forced marriages and sexual abuse.

How many of us are fully aware of the struggles, of transgender or even their basic anatomy? Do we know how difficult it is for them to rent a house? Do we ever sit with our children and give them the awareness or teach them to respect diversity. Why aren’t we ready to contribute towards their education, grooming or even basic necessities like safety, food and shelter?

Can a transwoman walk alone at night without the fear of getting bullied or raped? A transgender cannot even walk alone in the day without catcalling and harassment. We don’t want to see them dancing and begging on the streets but we are not ready to provide them with alternatives either.

What we need to do is change our perspective towards the transgender community. Maybe the transwoman that you saw at the signal the other day begging to make a living is also a great painter; maybe the transwoman who came to your home to dance for an event has a great passion for history. Are we ready to take an initiative to provide them a path towards a respectful career or we just want to criticize and make fun of them? It is strange that almost everyone knows about their problems but still their voices are unheard. They are still trying to seek validation and it is heart wrenching.

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