Pakistan has taken a massive strides in recognition for the transgender community of the country. The entire process started from June 2017. Gender neutral passports and national identity cards have been issued, a step ahead was taken by the KP government and they have started issuing driving licenses to transgenders in the province. The Senate, recently, has approved a bill that allows transgenders to decide their own identity.
Essentially, the country’s trans community seems to be emerging out of the shadows of oppression that it was hidden behind for many years but are things really changing?
What Pakistan has achieved so far are huge milestones for a country that has sidelined and marginalized this population for the last 70 years. Imagine living a life in which the state dictates which gender you can identify with and what you write in the papers. And this official pressure is separate from what they go through socially.
However, do these legislations have an impact on the social conditioning of the people? Here are a few questions that we need to ask ourselves:
Can they practice religion freely?
Can they go out and identify with the gender they please?
Will they be stopped from using the sections (male/female) they please?
Will parents not finally give up on them?
Is the job market open for them?
Is marrying someone out of their will something that the society will accommodate?
We got in touch with Munni, a transgender living in the outskirts of Lahore, to ask how her life has changed after the legislations
“It has certainly become easier, officially”, she said. “We can now be a part of the national database that recognizes that we are very much alive and living in this country like everyone else but nothing else has changed. The other day, my guru brought in a baby, whose parents refused to keep her after finding out that she was a transgender.”
Does that make you feel like things have changed?
“I went out the other night to beg on the streets and was beaten by a group of boys, who thought it was completely ok to hit me only because they are somehow more human than I am. I remember I was very young, I would go out and play with my friends. Chupan chupai, do you remember it? We would hide and someone would locate us. That has become our life now. We constantly move in order to find a safe spot but they always end up finding us and the same process goes on again and again. Is that the kind of life you or anyone want to be leading? I don’t think so!”
We all grow up witnessing how unfair the society is towards the transgender community. People find it funny to disrespect them and a sense of fear is associated with them. They are never really seen as a part of the community at large.
Imagine how it’s like growing up knowing that your family gave up on you, merely because of something that wasn’t in your control
And an entire life follows afterwards. You cannot go to school and study like a normal kid because people make sure to point out that you are one of them now. The same opportunities that are provided to any other person in Pakistan are not available to them.
They are taken in by gurus, who have dedicated their lives into protecting these children and ensuring that they have a better life than the one on the streets. They then follow the same career trajectory of dressing up, dancing and selling their bodies in order to get by in life.
It took 70 years for even the State to recognize that they are a part of country
It is one thing for the population to have such a jaded approach but for a state, that is expected to be working in the best interest of the people, to take 70 years to include this population in the census of the country is highly disappointing and parochial. The numbers showed a population of 10000 transgenders in Pakistan.
Do you think that these legislations are enough to change the perspective of the people and make the society more inclusive?
Or is there a better way to go about solving problems that affect people on a day to day basis? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover image via: nytimes.com