Transgenders in Pakistan


by Faseeh Shams

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For the hijras in Pakistan, dance and song is the only way to earn a respectable living, as their presence is considered auspicious on wedding and childbirth celebrations. However they are not treated as equals unanimously by the conservative and liberal sections of Pakistani society.

They live in secluded communities with their own kind, often in extreme poverty. Most are uneducated as the notion of a transgendered child being brought up in a normal household and studying in a mainstream school is not an acceptable reality. As a result they often end up on the streets dressed in flashy clothes, faces caked with make-up, begging at traffic signals during the day and selling sex during the night.

Over the years the government has done little to improve their condition. However, in light of recent activism by the transgender community, the Supreme Court of Pakistan granted them the right to national ID cards and equal inheritance and job opportunity rights.

Times were not equally bleak for the transgendered back in the days when Muslim Mughal Emperors ruled the subcontinent from 1526 to 1757. Many dream of restoring the glory from the time when they held important roles in the Mughal palaces, guarding their harems and often acting as aides to queens.

However, coming back to the present times, it seems there’s still a long way to go before the mentality of the common Pakistani changes to treat transgender individuals as equals. A mere ID card has unfortunately not helped in earning them the identity and respect they deserve.

See more on Faseeh Shams website

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