A Transgender Tragedy in Pakistan

Alisha was the Peshawar coordinator and one of eight board members of Trans Action Alliance, an association of transgender groups working together for their rights. She was shot eight times by her killer, leaving her on the brink of death.

When rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital, the doctors refused to treat Alisha. Instead, they refused to admit her into a ward due to her gender. The staff and patients in both the male and female wards refused to grant her a bed in either ward. For a whole day, the members of Trans Action Alliance kept asking the doctors to help her – to no avail.

“While we gathered in the hospital to request the doctors to treat critically injured Alisha, the crowd, consisting solely of men, surrounded us, commenting on our appearances,” Jan said.

“Many asked us the amount we charge for one night, others inquired about our home addresses. Some even asked if our breasts were natural or not.”

Most of the transgender women in Pakistan are abandoned by their families because they are considered a disgrace to their name. When their gender identity is discovered, often parents force them to be a “man.”

Qamar Naseem, a program coordinator at Blue Veins (an NGO working for the rights of transgender community), finds this practice horrible. “Severe violence against them leaves a remarkable impact, as they lose all the confidence in themselves,” he says.

“Beaten at home, if they get to see the face of a school, their plight gets worse. They can be distinguished easily due to their habits and are bullied by their fellows,” he adds.

Due to severe peer pressure and cases of sexual violence, it becomes difficult for transgender people to receive a proper education. Facing rejection from both home and school, they often run away – finding solace only in their own community. With no proper education and facing severe hatred from the people around them, they are left with no other choice but to adopt the professions others in their company have adopted – sex work or dancing.

As several transgender people gathered at the hospital, they attracted the attention of the crowd, which started taking their pictures and making fun of them – a regular practice in most parts of Pakistan. Farzana Jan, who heads the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of Trans Action Alliance, narrated the incident to me.

Read more at: A Transgender Tragedy in Pakistan | The Diplomat

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