In a historic feat, leading transgender activist Sarah Gill has become Pakistan’s first transgender doctor after successfully clearing her MBBS final exams from JPMC, Karachi. It requires great courage to remain motivated and steadfast in circumstances where people do not fully understand and refuse to acknowledge your identity. And despite all odds, Sarah Gill has proved that hard work and dedication do pay.
More than an individual achievement, this feat is exemplary for the entire transgender community. Dr Gill has shown transgender persons a different path. They do not have to resort to dancing, prostitution or begging to make ends meet and can instead be brave enough to opt for various other vocations. It is also the first step for all of us as a society to acknowledge and integrate transgender persons within our communities and structures. Such acceptance, respect and empathy will go a long way in trying to create a more inclusive and peaceful environment. In order to bolster the transgender community, the government must now follow through with a worthy initiative that motivates transgender children to follow their dreams and encourages them to enroll in schools and colleges to complete their education. Teachers must be sensitised on the matter and education institutions must introduce a non-gender/transgender persons section in their forms and structures. It will indeed take time for society to noramlise itself to this but it must happen nonetheless. 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, the transgender community can become active and responsible citizens.
There is no doubt that Dr Gill — a strong and relentless activist — will continue to motivate the transgender community. But is the government and society ready to stand with her in order to support her endeavors and uplift the vulnerable community? One hopes that we see an inclusive Pakistan in the future where trans-persons have fully integrated within society.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2022.