Lively protest: Transgenders rally for equal rights

In a bid to get noticed, some protesters broke into dance.

Photo Myra Iqbal/maryam Usman December 11, 2013
Through dancing demonstrations and high-pitched slogans, the transgender community members staged an attention grabbing, yet endearing protest without breaking a single piece of public property. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/ EXPRESS


Life is not easy for Nadia. While the ‘night job’ of the Muslim Colony slum resident entails dancing at fancy parties, her day job is begging in upscale commercial markets of the capital.

Grappling with her tabooed reality, she wonders how long she would have to face the social rejection she has grown up with. “I want to be considered a human first, let alone a Muslim,” she said, tousling her gold-streaked hair as her sequined black-and-blue dress shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight. “We should be allowed to cast votes, get decent jobs and be accepted as a part of society.”

She was among 20 transvestites who protested outside the National Press Club on Tuesday.  With the surroundings echoing with their high-pitched voices, the slogans they were chanted included, “Alvida, alvida (goodbye) chief justice, hamara bill pass karo (Pass our bill),” their placards inscribed with phrases such as “We are humans too” and “We want our basic rights.”

In a desperate bid to get noticed and with an unrestrained ambivalence, some even broke into dance — clapping enthusiastically and shouting their demands at the top of their voices. Clad in bright, ornamented outfits and adorned in garish makeup and jewellery, they were all for making a statement.

“We demand respect and dignity, just like any other person in society,” said Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (Saffar) President Nadeem Kashish, who was spearheading the protest. “While we appreciate Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for his valued order to protect the rights of a transgender with parity to other individuals, we request the community to support us through donation and moral support to meet our objectives.”

Kashish said their organisation stood for the rights of the transgender community.

“We want to be heard and accepted for who we are,” said a transgender who identified herself as Angelina Jolie. “We want to have proper jobs and live decent lives. No one should be harassed by police and be forced to beg in the streets. It’s about time we got justice.”

While many of them are skilled beauticians or cooks, the uneducated have it the worst. “There are hardly any work or livelihood opportunities. The [politicians and bureaucrats] should hire us as domestic help in their homes and also devise a mechanism for pensions. Most of us don’t even have old homes,” said Zara, another protester.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2013.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ