It was in 2012 when Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case pertaining to the rights of the trans-genders in Pakistan, and the apex court ruled that trans-genders or Khawaja Sirah – like any other member of society – have the right over family inheritance, political membership, right to vote and work in public and private sectors. Not only were they recognized as equal citizens of Pakistan, they also won the right to identify according to their own comprehension of gender and thus, the option for ‘Third Gender’ was officially accepted on their NIC(s).

However, while politically they retain rights like other Pakistani citizens, trans-genders receive some of the worst stigma and phobia on a social level. We may not have a transphobic problem the way the United States does – with young trans-gender and trans-sexual people often killed during vicious and bigoted attacks – but we do relegate this oft-misunderstood and abused community to the shadows of pariah life, unemployment and general destitution. This is why it is highly important that, in addition to the Supreme Court’s support, the parliament owes pragmatic legislation for the Khawaja Sirah community. You can win as many legal cases you want but until people understand that diversity is not a moral hazard, lives will continue suffering and going to waste.

Of course, we have had trans-gender talk show hosts and vocal members in the assembly but they, too, have raised their rightful discontentment with the unnecessary delay in the implementation of better laws for their communities. There is a need to de-mystify the existence of trans-gender Pakistanis and understand that they are as normal as the next Pakistani man and woman. This can only happen when we begin to acknowledge them on a thoroughly egalitarian basis without giving into our prejudice.