Transgender community is a marginalized segment of the society that faces different issues apropos of their non-binary gender. In our country, it is not considered good when someone who belongs to cisgender community interacts with a transgender. This can mainly be attributed to the type of professions that these people associate themselves with__ which are not deemed to be reputable ones__ and also because they have been sidelined for time immemorial and other people cannot really understand the agonies that they face, due to lack of interaction. These are some of the main factors that led us to conduct a research on this part of the community and get a closer look into their lives and experiences. This write-up is aimed to discuss the lived experiences of transgender individuals and why it is important to delve into the complexities of their issues before making a legislation for them in the country.
Transgender individuals have been gravely deprived of their rights since British colonization in the subcontinent, but Transgender Persons Act, 2018 proved to be a path-breaking initiative for this part of the population. Still there are many loopholes with regards to the implementation of that Act __ which have a lot to do with clichéd cultural patterns. Hence, it is crucial for government, first, to involve transgender persons in the policy-making process when some policy is being made about them, and also to consider the socio-cultural aspects of the society to ensure the implementation of Acts and policies.
While interviewing the transgender respondents, it turned out that most of them who belong to lower socio-economic classes had been forsaken by their families because of their gender. They maintained that even though their parents wanted to keep them at home but carping comments made by the social groups made their families leave them in the hands of merciless world. One respondent said, “my parents were told that I was born as a transgender because of their wrongdoings and sins, and God punished them through me. It was after this that my parents decided to abandon me.”
Their responses depicted a sense of disenchantment with the society. Many of them shared harrowing details of abuse that they got to face from the people around them because of the patriarchal structure. There was not even a single respondent who would say that he/she had not been maltreated by the men in the society.
A respondent from Karachi, Nisha Rao, who is the first transgender lawyer in Pakistan, (she had no issues with her name being revealed for this article) was attacked the day when I interviewed her. She has remained a strong advocate of transgender rights in the country and also runs an organization for them. Attacking someone like her is a symbol of intimidation to silence voices critical of ongoing discrimination and abuse.
Answering a question related to policy level measures for the transgender community in the country, a transgender activist named Masooma from Karachi, stated, “Making policies would be of no use if the attitude of parents is not changed with regards to their behavior towards the trans-child. Government should do something to change the perceptions of general people towards the transgender community.” This stance sounds plausible as it is important to introduce policies to make this society trans-inclusive first, and only then can any other legislation work in true sense of the word.
Our work on this research is still underway, but it is pertinent to note here that in order to address the problems faced by a certain section, it is important to know their grievances first and also to make them a part of the policy process. Cultural beliefs and values take a great deal of time to change, but academicians and students can play a significant role to bring these issues to the forefront and make people aware of the intricacies of such matters. Bridging the gap among all the gender is the first step towards an inclusive society.