ISLAMABAD: I am writing to express my views about the unjust denial of basic rights to the transgender community in the hope to call attention towards its endless parade of trials and ordeals. We may consider ourselves a prejudice-free nation with a deeply rooted sense of respect and duty towards all human rights enjoined upon us since the majority of us are followers of Islam. There are countless NGOs fighting inexhaustibly on the side of the weak for decades. However, have you ever come across many groups of activists or leading NGOs and government institutions trying to turn things around for a largely neglected and underprivileged community of Pakistan, the transgender community?
From workplace discrimination, to family issues, to fighting for just treatment, to dealing with insults and violence, to being denied education, jobs, healthcare facilities and identity documents, the transgender community of the country faces a lot of problems. There are an estimated 500,000 transgenders in Pakistan and it was only in 2012 that this community was given some legal rights. But to their dismay, these are only guaranteed on paper and not in practice. What we do not understand is that judging a person based on their gender and not their talent, skill and ability to think and work is a travesty of justice.
We need to accept that the transgender community deserves to live a normal life and earn their living without prejudice. They also deserve to live in nice houses, have adequate health and educational rights and a family and a support system of friends, just like any other citizen.
Isma Shafqat Raja
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.