The last four years have witnessed the government taking huge leaps for the transgender community. It was the current government that pushed for them being a part of the national census, taking place after 19 long years. It was the first time that they were counted and their presence in the country was acknowledged. This is a huge step for a country that regularly marginalises them and mistreats them. Every other day we hear how it is not just the people who degrade them but also authorities also indulge in such a behaviour that reinforces that they should be discriminated against.

The current government helped legislate for this group. In June 2017, the transgender people were given the right to write “X” as their gender on their passports to identify themselves. Then in August 2017, they were granted the right to have national identity cards representing the third gender. This has made official matters easier as no specific identity is being forced on them. We also recently witnessed that a group of transgender persons from each province will also be a part of the scouts going to volunteer on Hajj this year. And now the Senate has allowed transgender people to identify with whichever gender that they feel comfortable with.

This is a significant development, and those pushing for this bill must be commended, however, the next step forward must also be kept in mind. Do we have any statistics on whether or not these legislations have improved their social life and their social standing? Do we know that these legislations now keep them safe and push people to see them like other ordinary people?

Pakistan, as a country, is no doubt very quick in passing legislations. We promptly pick up agendas but if these legislations do not offer protection, inclusivity and acceptance for the transgender community then we need to rethink our legislative process. This legislation is the first step towards an inclusive society, which does not negate their existence and guarantees them equal rights that are being offered to any other Pakistani at this point in time.