The recent viral video of a transgender being horribly beaten and tortured at the hands of a local gang is macabre in the extreme – there is little that can be said that accurately describes the outrage one feels when watching the horrifying video. The harrowing account told by a transgender named Julie after the torture video surfaced is also chilling, “We were beaten up and gang raped all night. They hit us with shoes, spat on our faces...”

Nine have already been arrested in connection the crimes committed on tape, but their arrests must follow swift convictions as a means of deterrence for starters. A re-education is clearly needed to reform the mindset of people that see transgender persons as worthless, or less-than-human, and then have the moral depravity to stoop to the depths of physical abuse and rape. In August, a transgender woman named Sumbal was shot in the abdomen thrice in Abbottabad. The hospital she was taken to refused to treat her.

This gang in Sialkot is not the only one. Transgender persons across the country have little in the way of traditional employment opportunities. Begging, dancing or prostitution are sometimes the only avenues to make enough money to be able to feed themselves. And this is where gangs of this sort come in – they muscle and blackmail members of an already downtrodden community for personal gain, and it doesn’t help that they also have nothing but contempt and malice for transgender persons.

The abuse faced by transgender persons is a reflection of the prevailing mindset in society, and this reflection is nothing but shameful. It’s is not just about a few people indulging in vicious forms of torture, all of us are equally complicit for looking down on transgender persons, and viewing them with nothing but disdain.

Granting NOCs to members of the transgender community and allowing them to marry is of no use while incidents like this keep taking place. Julie’s message about imagining a fate like this for ourselves or our children is too painful to stomach. This video is just the one instance that was caught on camera, there have been many more that are much worse. The pain of transgender persons is a pain all of us must share, in order to fully realise how our stigmatisation has led us to this point.