The state of Pakistan has failed to instil any semblance of equality among citizens. Being fractured across multiple lines, the harsh reality in our society is that those that are different are shunned to the periphery and marginalised from the rest. These so-called “outcasts” and “degenerates” are often excluded from state systems and institutions. As a result, they are consistently deprived of their basic human rights.
The transgender community is one such group that is constantly harassed and at times even killed, simply for being different. They are denied basic necessities such as the right to receive education which most others take for granted. Regrettably, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 has miserably failed to uphold their rights and provide them protection. The act only serves to create a positive image of diversity when in reality little to nothing is being done at implementing it effectively. Therefore, in order for them to self-sustain, the community has created their own little tightly-knit bubbles, sporadically spread out across the country, to support one another. Moreover, they are forced to resort to professions like dancing, prostitution and begging in order to make ends meet. However, with the unprecedented pandemic further adding misery to their lives, some have taken it upon themselves to change the fate that has been ascribed to them by society. Many have started to acquire vocational training and are increasingly seeking religious education in order to reintegrate into society and combat the stigmas attached to their identity.
It is said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Pakistan needs to focus on creating an inclusive environment — one that consciously evolves to meet the changing needs of all its members. Through recognition and support, marginalised communities can provide meaningful involvement to the country, while also improving their plight. Only by affirming and accepting differences can we tear through the very fences that separate us.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2021.