The transgender community can rightly be called the wretched of Pakistan. Although their population is 300,000-500,000 members strong, yet the transgender people endure severe system discrimination. Only recently, the government of Pakistan and its institutions have taken some progressive steps in mainstreaming and uplifting them on the social scale. However, with increased recognition and attempts to correct the wrongs of the past, the members of the community have come up with some costs attached. Recent reports and news stories suggest an uptick of violence against the community members.

Testimonial to what is said above is evident from different events that occurred in last 24 hours. In a body recovered from Ashiqabad, near Warsak Road, Peshawar, that of a transgender person bore signs of torture. Khyber Medical College (KMC) morgue’s management refusal to keep the body, suggest that not only people but state institutions, too, are reluctant to accept them as equal citizens. Such actions highlight the callousness of the society as well as the state towards these people.

The violence against the transgender persons has increased in Pakistan manifolds in recent years. A lot of abuse is directed towards them. According to the nonprofit Trans Action Alliance, at least 50 members of the transgender community have been killed and more than 390 were raped in 2015 and 2016 in only one province, i.e., Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Two bills were introduced in the National Assembly in August for mainstreaming them. One bill was to make amendments to Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. While the aim of the second bill, “The Transgender Persons Bill, 2017” was the protection of their rights. But so far, occurrences of violence directed against them go unnoticed as well as unpunished.

As a result of latest steps taken by the government, the transgender persons are allowed to vote in the upcoming elections. However, only 1456 transgender persons are registered as voters on electoral rolls. The number is far lower than the population of the community recorded in the census held this year. The numbers recorded in the census were severely criticized by the activists from the community. Given such a small number of voters from the community, the transgender community will fail to put forward their demands and make them realize.

While the state is taking steps in the right directions to uplift the community mentioned above, concrete policies are needed. Enabling the transgender population to exercise their rights —guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan to the citizens of the country— requires inclusive policies. A kind review of prohibitive processes and sensitization of public service providers, from healthcare workers to law-enforcement officers is also need of the hour while dealing with individuals from the community.