Few are willing to come to the aid of one of the most marginalised segments of society; people who identify themselves as transgender. However, that didn’t stop dozens of people who are transgender from gathering in a tent outside Peshawar Press Club to demand respectable housing and protection against people out to harm them.
Many gathered to observe the demonstration and some took selfies to show support. A few of them even ended up in handcuffs.
To mainstream transgender people, NCA hires them
“This is how they deal with us,” said Shemale Association Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) President Farzana. “I have not been to home for [the last] 24 years as my own family has refused to accept me. What can I expect from society?”
She was joined by many from her community from different parts of the province. On top of their list of demands was shelter since most of them live in miserable conditions as neither their families nor society has accepted them.
Farzana, who is resident of Mardan which is hardly 40 kilometres from the provincial capital, has never been back home – not even to attend her parents’ funerals. “They won’t even accept my dead body,” she said.
A voice for transgenders
“When my family came to know, they started hating me,” explained Farzana. “Neighbours teased me, friends laughed at me and schoolmates made fun of me.” She added she felt her only choice was to either run away or hang herself.
Farzana, who is the guru for over 1,800 transgenders in the provincial capital, said almost each and every one of the estimated 45,000 people in K-P like her have experienced the same situation. That is why they all choose to live in the same locality, according to Farzana.
“I am mother, father, brother and sister to them. We celebrate Eid collectively,” said Farzana. “We mourn the death of our sisters and we also laugh among ourselves as society has isolated us and confined us to rented homes.”
The transgender community
She added even graveyards are known to refuse space for their dead and they have to offer money since “that is what seems to matter the most”. According to Farzana, many of her friends were brutally killed, but the government has not brought a single culprit to justice.
“They are celebrating Human Rights Day, but even if they (officials) read our stories in the paper tomorrow, it won’t bother them one bit. They have forgotten the miseries of the living dead,” she said.
Besides Farzana, many of her friends demand the government provide safe shelter and health facilities. They suggested a specific medical ward should be designated for them at every hospital, including district headquarters institutions.
Aisha Khan asked the police to extend some support and file their complaints.
The protesters held a sit-in outside the press club for over five hours to reject the 16-days of gender based activism being observed locally and globally. According to representatives of non-profits working in the field, people who are transgender were protesting the exclusion from activities that fight gender-based violence.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2015.