Lives of transgenders in Pakistan is difficult since they open their eyes. Their parents reject transgender or khawajasaras as soon as they learn that their child is one. Left at the hands of an unforgiving culture, transgenders soon understand that they are nothing more than objects of mockery, to the extent as the term hijra (transgender) has become one of the many terms in our verbal violence itself. Thus, with no home for shelter, no family for help and no friends to give comfort, the survival instinct pushes transgender into taking up careers under human dignity. They are mainly sex workers. They are working on weddings as dancers too.
We have been considered only fit to sing and dance at weddings, and that’s it.” BINDIYA RANA, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST”
And this makes them not only objects of entertainment but also of violence. Sexual abuse and violent incidents against the transgender community are common in Pakistan. Most of these go unmentioned in the media and without police investigation. In 2018 Pakistan’s Secretary of the Law and Justice Commission informed the Supreme Court that there have been more than 500 transgenders killed in the country since 2015. But perhaps the greater culprit is not only the one who commits the crimes but the mindset that overlooks the transgender community’s social exclusion.
The idea of normal transgender life in Pakistan a life similar to that of ordinary men and women is unthinkable. Many people would rather not bear the sight of a worshipping transgender at mosques, working in offices, and studying in schools with their children. Such stigma has criticized the transgenders to a life of despair and shame.
Population of transgender in Pakistan
How many transgenders are in Pakistan?
According to the census conducted in 2017:
There are 10,418 transgender people in Pakistan living nationally with their identity revealed.
Whereas many transgenders have not revealed their identity and they beg on roads and entertain in programs for their living. According to KSS (khawajasira society), there is more than 500,000 khawajasiras in Pakistan.
KSS (Khawaja Sira Society)-A Hope for Pakistani khawaja sira
The Khawaja Sira Society (KSS), founded in 2010 under the Global Fund Grant Round 9 by Naz Male Health Society, is Pakistan’s first and largest transgender community organization with 300,000 members, volunteers, and associates across the country.
KSS’ vision is
“To ensure that transgender individuals have the same rights that their cisgender counterparts are entitled to”.
For hijra groups, KSS offers an extremely thorough and careful voluntary treatment and HIV test (VCT). HIV is well-established among IDUs in Pakistan and the disease is also spreading among transgender people over 6 percent in a few cities, including Lahore. KSS’s VCT services reported 13,000 transgenders. The organization also runs a literacy program aimed at reducing analphabetism among hijras in the hope of enhancing their education and finding adequate work to support themselves and their families. The NGO has also opened the first Transgender School in Lahore. Don’t be surprised if you find educated transgender and even a Ph.D. among their ranks! KSS located on Peco Road, Lahore. You can find more about it on their Facebook page: Khawaja Sira Society
KSS thinks all hijra are equal regardless of religion. The organization promotes the celebration of all important religious holidays like Navratri and Diwali celebrated with Eid, Christmas, and even for Hindus by organizing fun-filled activities in which all members can participate.
Laws for transgender people in Pakistan
The Pakistani Government has always shown a refusal to accept the issue of transgender rights and never hid its intolerance. The Pakistan Constitution does not explicitly make mention gender identity. Part II 37. The government pledges to promote Islamic values among its Muslim citizens, to protect marriage and the family, and to oppose obscenity. Part IX 227. Islam is the official state religion, and all laws, rules, regulations and other such legislation must be compatible with Islam, as defined by a government-appointed Islamic council.
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Transgender face a label in the workplace as in public as well. There is no vacancy for them in any organization. They face rejection at the time of the interview. They face bullying when they get a job by chance. Somehow unemployment and financial deprivation are their part of life. Transgenders face many hurdles in their workplace including the non-supportive attitude of their colleagues and the pressure of work from employers. Pakistan Government has fixed the 5% job quota in the government sector but this one is for news only. The private sector did not fix any job quota for transgender. More than 10,000 transgender people are holding the nationality of Pakistan it is the vast number of human resource which cannot be ignored.
Acceptance in Society
Kenny Ethan Jones is a transgender male model and activist told BBC
“Transphobia is something I witness every single day, I’m often intentionally misgendered and I’m always on the receiving end of comments like you are not a real man, you’re confused and you need God, You don’t deserve to live. I wonder if people understand the effect that these abusive comments have on my mental health. Some days I feel hurt and hopeless.”
As well as the same situation is in Pakistan. Society refuses to accept transgender people equally. In terms of identity many societies in which our society included as well, strictly stick to two genders either there is a male or female.
I have recently learned to know from one of the transgender that she was not invited in her brother’s marriage just because she is a matter of shame for her family and they think she is only for dancing or entertainment purpose. Imagine your family refuses to accept you for the reason that is beyond your control.
We can not only blame the government or higher authorities what we are doing as an individual for them? When they came to our doorstep asking for money we are just making fun of them. If we saw any transgender in our school, college, or office will you give them the respect they deserve? Firstly bring change to yourself towards them than only we can change society.