Tuesday June 25, 2024

Transgender persons demand end to ‘medical gatekeeping’

By Our Correspondent
November 20, 2023
Participants can be seen during the Sindh Moorat March on November 19, 2023, in Karachis Ferere Hall. — Facebook/Aurat March
Participants can be seen during the Sindh Moorat March on November 19, 2023, in Karachi's Ferere Hall. — Facebook/Aurat March

Transgender persons in Karachi have demanded that Khwaja Siras wishing for the X gender marker never be subjected to medical gatekeeping. Their identity is for them to define and must be respected without unnecessary barriers, they said.

In the second Sindh Moorat March, a one-of-its-kind human rights march in the city, which was held at the Frere Hall on Sunday, transgender persons demanded criminalising all forms of discrimination and hate speech based on gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

The march started with a two-minute silence to show solidarity with Palestinians. They also demanded the rigorous implementation of and follow-up on reported cases, which they said are crucial for the safety and dignity of all citizens.

They demanded that murders of Khwaja Siras must not be dismissed through the Qisas and Diyat laws. “Every life is precious, and justice must not be compromised,” according to their charter of demands.

They also criticised charging extra or denying housing based on gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, which they said should be criminalised. They demanded incorporating designated seats for Khwaja Siras in all public transport vehicles in Sindh, reaffirming their right to safety and equality in daily commute.

They demanded enforcing the existing 0.2 per cent employment quota for Khwaja Siras in all public sectors in the province. They also demanded designing a Khwaja-Sira-specific HIV programme with dedicated funding from the government. “This programme should be governed by a body of community-based activists to ensure its effectiveness and relevance.”

They demanded revising the educational curricula to encompass the profound political and cultural history of Khwaja Siras in South Asia, along with their significant positive roles and contributions in ancient societies and empires. They also demanded including detailed and sensitive coverage of Khwaja Siras and intersex conditions in biology.

They demanded that the government not deny their lawful rights to assets and inheritance, and that legislation be in place to ensure they are treated equitably in all inheritance matters.

They also demanded to be officially recognised as a protected indigenous population, and to acknowledge and preserve their rights, cultural significance and contributions through specific legislation.

As for education, they said that public educational institutions must rigorously enforce designated quotas for Khwaja Siras, promoting equal opportunities in higher education. They also demanded banning unnecessary surgeries of intersex children without informed consent.