Komorebi Post– “My father, brothers and other family members would hide me and prevent me from interacting with relatives; I would be absent from relatives’ functions because I was a transvestite, with whom there is a social taboo. This is why I left home and took refuge with a guru,” Farzana told Komorebi Post.
Farzana, a 35-year-old transgender, who identifies as a woman, left her home at the age of 8 because her family did not tolerate her “manners”.
“Guru” is a term used for a person who is a mentor or takes care of transgender people and has set up a residential facility for them. The transgender community in Pakistan mostly eke out a living by dancing at wedding and other festive ceremonies.
Although Pakistan is considered conservative and homosexuality is illegal, nevertheless the government of Pakistan has added a distinct category for “third gender” for trans people in the national identity cards thanks to a 2009 Supreme Court decision. In 2011, the group had the right to vote, and a year later they awarded them the right to inheritance. And just recently they have been given driving licences with the aim of enabling them to work as drivers if any of them does not like the dancing profession.
“We are happy over the award of driving licences and Pakistani national identity cards; this is a step to empowerment of our community” said Farzana, who is now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province president of TransAction Alliance, an organisation working for the rights of the transgender people in Pakistan.
“In society, transgender people are laughed at. This is why, they often try to find people who are like them and with whom they can live,” she said.
Violence against transgender community
Despite growing awareness about trans rights in recent years. The transgender community have suffered numerous attacks, and several were killed. Farzana says that transgender people are considered weak, this is why they are often harassed. She said that the government should do more legislation and measures for protection. Taimur Kamal, coordinator for a rights organisation Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, says that more than 60 transgender people have been killed in attacks so far since 2015. “One has been killed in the current year while six from the community had been killed in the year 2018,” he added.
The senior superintendent of police (operations), Zahoor Babar Afridi for KP province metropolis Peshawar, told Komorebi Post, that according to police investigations, most of the attacks on transgender community are not based on militancy but due to relationship issues.
“We have found during investigation of many cases that a transgender person is attacked or harmed just because she parts from friendship of someone, who then attacks the transgender as revenge. We have solved and traced many such cases,” he added.
But now committees have been formed for their protection, each comprising four members from the police department, and two from transgender community and civil society.
“We provide security to them when they demand it. We provide them security when they go to perform dance at a wedding functions,” the official added.