The violence against transgender persons that we saw in previous years has continued into 2019 with another transgender person injured in a shooting in Mansehra recently, and other acts of violence against transgender persons reported from various parts of the country. Last year in September the Supreme Court was told by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan that at least 500 transgender persons had been killed in the country since 2015. Groups advocating the rights of the transgender community have continued to gather and protest outside hospitals and police stations whenever a new act of violence is reported. However, the murders and other acts directly against transgender persons suggest that the laws passed under which they are to be granted CNICs and employment in the public sector have been at best only partially effective. A huge amount of prejudice continues to exist against the community despite the protections and legal rights granted to them. The inclusion of a column for the third gender on official documents is really of limited benefit in a situation where a person with a transgender identity can be shot or killed through other means even in the midst of large cities such as Karachi or Peshawar.
We clearly still have a very long way to go. While the grant of identity cards and other measures to mainstream the community was obviously a positive step, far more needs to be done to make transgender men and women acceptable. Groups advocating their rights point out that denial of employment remains a commonplace problem with many forced to resort to begging or providing entertainment at weddings as a result. The legal safeguards granted to transgender persons will need to be taken further and converted into a greater willingness to accept their existence. This will naturally take time and effort from both the official and the private sectors. The number of murders we have seen and continue to see suggest there is still a long way to go and that police, hospital staff and members of the administration need to be sensitised to the problem so that they can help tackle it.