In Pakistan, it is a sin to be a transgender

Published: November 14, 2016

I am at a loss for words. I really am. It feels like a sucker punch. It feels like I’m in an alternate dimension – something out of a dark graphic novel where there are no heroes, just villains.

And that’s just me. Disconnected from the actual scene of crime, sitting comfortably on my chair, typing away this blog, trying to express the deep sense of horror that I feel right now after watching these videos.

The video below shows a gang member brutally beating a transgender – he humiliates and assaults her, but no one is able to set this person aside or stop him from behaving this way.

The video placed above shows a transgender named Julie narrating this horrific tale of what happened to her in Faisalabad and Sialkot where she was physically abused, harassed, sexually assaulted and gang raped. She takes off her scarf and shows that her hair was chopped off. She narrates that there are gangs in every city that commit these heinous crimes and go scot-free. Everyone knows that they do this – everyone knows about them but there is little action against them.

Disclaimer: This video contains explicit content and may not be appropriate for people all ages. Please watch at your own discretion.  

News reports suggested that some of these perpetrators have been arrested – but to what long term consequence, is my question. What long-term effect will this sporadic arrest have? None. These gang members, likely to be connected with political and legal big wigs, will be free again. We ridicule them in our society. We do not want to protect them from disenfranchisement. We do not want them to be a part of us. And when a community is marginalised to such an extent, harassment and abuses against them will only increase.

Watching these videos was heart-breaking and terrifying. Julie sobs and asks everyone what if they had children in their house who were intersex or transgender – would they want their child to be treated like that? They are human beings. Just like us. They deserve to live in Pakistan without fearing for their lives and more importantly, they deserve justice.


Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Keyboard Soldier

    At one point in time during the Umayyad Caliphate, a caliph, usually identified as Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik, ordered that all Mukhannathun (Transgenders) should be castrated.

    Transgenders are looked upon with contempt in ALL Islamic countries. Their plight is the same in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran.Recommend

  • farhan

    this is bad and needs to stop, the man was absolutely wrong as i see it…Also these transgender need to stop doing prostitution..You can please visit Marir in rawalpindi or muree road and see them trying to sell their bodies..Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    @ Badar, you can call it a curse of the modern world. 20 Years back, Transgenders were kept at a safe distance. People used to stay as far away as possible from them. Now they are looked upon as sexual objects. All this is due to digital world and the associated porn.Recommend

  • Humza

    It is disturbing to see the abuse of members of the transgender or LGBT community anywhere in the world whether in the West or in Pakistan. The transgender community in the West is also linked to the sex industry and there is sadly more violence and abuse when you are dealing with the darker underside of any society or gangs. Fortunately, there is greater awareness of this community in Pakistan which is why there is a public hue and cry due to injustice. No one deserves to be abused. The very fact that members of criminal gangs that were preying in such people are being apprehended and jailed in Pakistan is a good sign that such violence will no go unanswered. The author of this piece talks about feeling sucker punched but does she feel the same revulsion when women who have nothing to do with the sex industry are raped every few minutes in India as is reported in statistics. Does she feel the same revulsion to the regular reported of transgender rapes in India where this community is disrespected as eunochs and set on fire? What is even more disturbing are reports of transgenders themselves taking part in the rape of women in India, I am all for bettering society but I have to take criticism carefully when it comes from an author who wrote earlier she wished her family never moved to Pakistan from India. When you say that you are against Pakistan’s founding and Jinnah made a mistake are you trying to support your argument with this article. You are entitled to your opinion in a free media but the readership has to know your own angle on this issue. Constructive criticism vs negative hype with a different agenda has to be differentiated.Recommend

  • Mehroz Ali

    But I have heard a different story one of my ex-colleagues who is also a transgender and as he states that this transgender invited the guy to his/her place and offered him s*x services …. and during this he/she had stolen everything this guy possessed… and in reaction he did all this to him…Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    ive seen trans in pak all my life and they have same rights as us. Even at airport counter, there is a third gender category listed for them.

    are they BIOLOGICAlly? like that or its the usual i think im stuck in a male body even though my soul is femaleRecommend