Stories about transgender community

Remembering Fahmida Riaz’s ballad on this International Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, one of only two days remembering and celebrating transgender people. Although transgender individuals have always been present in society, and have been mentioned in some of the oldest texts of the Muslim world such as The Arabian Nights, they have largely been the source of much mystique, ridicule and discrimination. Even in the 21st century, they have been among the last groups of people to get their rights, in legislation and otherwise. Fahmida Riaz, who passed away last November, has expressed the plight of the transgender in her masterful poem, Hijre ki Sargoshi (The eunuch’s ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Unrequited love, a choice or a consequence?

South Asian culture, particularly India and Pakistan, romanticises the notion of suffering in unrequited love. This emotionally-draining, one-sided road is deemed as a higher form of love and is attributed to purity. No wonder harassment is so common in our culture. “Sacha ishq wohi hai jo kabhi mil na paey.” (True love is that which can never meet.) The aforementioned sentence is sort of a slogan for these one-sided lovers. Since Sufism is one of the most dominant philosophies followed in Indo-Pak culture, the masochism involved in unrequited love – ishq-e-majazi – is held as a necessary stage towards attaining a divine form of ...

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From a bright student to a beggar: “The hate never melted” – Noshi’s journey as a transwoman

“You can change your hobby, but you cannot change your nature. If someone offers Rs10,000 to you in exchange for wearing such a feminine dress, you are probably not going to wear it. The same dress, however, is second nature to me. I wear and admire it every day. That does not make me any less of a human, does it?” This is how my conversation began with Noshi, a 45-year-old trans woman previously known as Farrukh Naeem. Noshi outside the room where she has been staying for the last four years. Growing up in Shahdara Town, ...

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In a country of abysmal women rights, will the Transgender Protection Act prove to be fruitful?

Last week, the National Assembly (NA) enacted a law to protect the rights of the transgender community. Called the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, its main provisions validate transgender identity and expression and seek to provide transgender men and women the rights they had under the country’s Constitution but never enjoyed. The act spells these rights out explicitly so there remains no doubt of their full citizenship. The definition of “transgender persons” is thoughtfully crafted to include intersex, eunuch or a “transgender man or woman, khawaja sira or any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from ...

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Pervez Musharraf claims he gave women their rights, but then mocks Bilawal Bhutto Zardari by calling him a “woman”

“Bilawal jo nahre laga raha ke auraton ke tarah. Sub se pehley tu yeh keh aadmi ban ker dikhai aur phir  nahre lagwai.” (Bilawal is raising slogans like a woman. First he should become a man and then raise such slogans.) These lines from the latest video from General (retired) Pervez Musharraf really hit me hard. As of late, I am becoming used to Musharraf sprouting nonsense, but this was very uncouth and ill-considered and below his usually extremely low standards. After all, Mr Musharraf, the former dictator and Pakistani “educated” urban middle class’s favorite political leader after Imran Khan, has lately been ...

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#ChangeTheClap: Giving inclusivity a new direction, one clap at a time

As 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence came to a close on December 10th, World Human Rights Day, the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) launched its #ChangeTheClap campaign. This campaign comes at an imperative time, considering that gender-based violence is on the rise and atrocities against the trans community, especially, are extremely prevalent. The campaign aims to directly challenge the way people perceive transgender people in Pakistan. Brutality and humiliation towards members of the transgender community is something every citizen of Pakistan is aware of, or has taken part in, directly or indirectly, in some form or the other. ...

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Rights over respect?: “Madam, this is the Red Zone and ‘khusray’ are not allowed here”

To be transgender means being unsafe across the globe, mainly because the masses have neither the understanding of gender diversity nor the awareness that a gender non-binary exists. Specifically in Pakistan, an almost outright denial of the existence of transgender people has led to their marginalisation as well as a lack of respect from society at large. They face threats, harassment and humiliation on a daily basis, and are only seen as sex workers, dancers or beggars. The disrespect and discrimination reserved for them is across the board, as in my many years I have seen no exceptions to this, not even from ...

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Basila & The Street Crew: A much-needed humanised portrayal of the transgender community

Growing up, I always wondered about different genders. I was curious and after talking to different people, I learned that there are some really alarming misconceptions about transgender people. Especially in Pakistan, they have long been denied basic human rights and are usually seen as “different”, abnormal, lowly, dirty and mere objects for entertainment. I was really young when I first encountered a transgender individual yet I remember it so vividly. This incident was as normal as any other daily interaction but there is still something about that moment that I find really bizarre. We were staying at our grandmother’s place during summer holidays ...

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By dressing as a man to make a statement, Ayesha Gulalai has only belittled countless dynamic women of Pakistan

No one said it was easy being a Pakistani woman. We fight misogyny, chauvinism and harassment on a daily basis in our schools, workplaces and for some, even homes. We are daughters, sisters and mothers but those relationships are not unto themselves. We populate the corporate world, lead movements, teach impressionable minds and raise little people. There is very little women cannot achieve and that forms our identities. It is a small mind then, in my opinion, which tries to fight misogyny by fitting into a box shaped like a man. A mind that has no business representing the multi-faceted and peerless entities that ...

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Pakistan issued its first third gender passport – but giving respect to the transgender community is asking for too much

As a part of Pakistan’s minority group who seems to care about our country’s transgender community, watching this video was disturbing to say the least. Shortly after the holy month of Ramazan was over and Eid was being celebrated, a group of Pakistani men of all ages thought it was amusing and entertaining to publicly harass a group of transgender people in Murree. The video itself left viewers, including myself, completely taken aback and disappointed. It was a stark reminder of how pathetic people can be. I couldn’t help but wonder how much time it would take for people of this country to become responsible and empathetic citizens. ...

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