Embracing The Transgender Community

Embracing The Transgender Community
For the past few decades, rights of the transgender are been highlighted at the state level. Yet, the community’s development is progressing at a snail’s pace.

Even though reasonable progression has happened, the public is completely oblivious about how the transgender community operates. Generally known as eunuchs or khawaja-sira, the term is synonymous to a certain extent with expression of hatred and suppression.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that transgender persons had equal rights as citizens of Pakistan. The court ordered that a third gender category be included on national identity cards. This made it possible for them to vote.

Although the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 is progress made in the right direction, the Federal Shariat Court and clergy have added sourness to the cause. The 2018 Act defines transgender as, "a person of intersex with mixture of male and female genital features, Eunuch assigned male at birth, but undergoes genital excision, a Transgender Man, Transgender Woman, Khawaja Sira or any person whose gender identity or gender expression differ from social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth."

The concept is still much more complex. In our recent detailed discussion with a transgender (we will call her Ms. ABC to protect her privacy), who is pursuing her post-graduation studies at a leading university, some startling revelations were made. According to Ms. ABC, a transgender is a mental phase or psychological feeling which any human being may encounter.

Ms. ABC feels a man is trapped inside her body. She said, a bulk of the transgender community is living in hiding to protect themselves from humiliation. The protection of a marginalised class is guaranteed not only in the constitution of Pakistan but is enshrined in human rights treaties that Pakistan has ratified.

As a starting point, the legislature in all provinces must criminalise derogatory terms and remarks used for transgender as hate crime and cognizable offence. Any repeat offender may be incarcerated for more than 10 years. The laws of evidence may be amended accordingly so that culprits are prosecuted through modern techniques and methodologies.
Transgender people must be encouraged to initiate businesses, like open restaurants, boutiques and salons. We must support their initiatives.

The government’s policy must be more inclusive towards transgender. The fruits of which must reach at the grass root level. It should be made a part of the state policy that two percent quota is reserved for the employment of transgender people in government jobs. As part of corporate social responsibility, all business entities must be compelled through legal means to provide jobs and vocational trainings to them. The tax benefits for such cooperate entities be linked directly with their contribution towards the transgender community.

The public must be sensitised through the media about issues of the transgender community. Islamic scholars should be compelled to spend time with the trans-community and educate them to set an example for others.

Transgender people must be encouraged to initiate businesses, like open restaurants, boutiques and salons. We must support their initiatives.

As part of the state policy, educational institutions must be instructed to create awareness and understanding about the transgender community among young children. They must be taught to love them rather than look down upon them.

We are equal before law. Any difference is personal than communal.