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March 11, 2019

Transgenders share painful stories of their lives


March 11, 2019

Islamabad: Majority of the transgender community members support their families throughout their lives but their families never show up to even take responsibility of their dead bodies.

Many such painful realities were shared at an event organised by Dareecha, a civil society organisations working on health conditions, health restoration and social welfare of transgender community of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The representatives of transgender community talked about their life experiences and success stories at the event, an advocacy training session for media persons aimed at training them on gender sensitive reporting and creating awareness on recently passed and approved "Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.

While sharing their success stories, the community representatives talked about the mindset that created hurdles in their way of progress while also appreciating those who supported them in their journey.

“The most difficult part is convincing families and face the society that is not ready to accept us as equal citizens,” said Khursand Bayar, a transgender activist from Lahore. “Interestingly, when a woman starts copying a man, she is appreciated and stays acceptable for the family and the society but if a man starts behaving like a woman, he is rejected and abandoned by the family and the society,” she pointed out.

Khursand though believes that things are changing and improving. “There was a time when transgender community was afraid of going to police station but now police is afraid of us. If we take any case to police station, they listen to us and tend to solve the issue. It is the power of media that has made them change their attitude towards us,” she said.

Neeli Rana, a transgender activist from Lahore shared the story of her teacher, Khalida, who lived with a simple wish of having her identity card. “She was not able to open her bank account without her identity card and whatever money she used to collect, it was stolen by people around her. She tried all possible ways but died without having her identity card,” said Neeli who has launched an organisation with the name ‘Rooh-e-Kahlida’ and plans to facilitate her community in making their identity cards.

Pakistan’s first transgender model Kami Sid said that in start, her family opposed her going to modelling professions as they didn’t want the world to know about her gender. “But when my sisters convinced my mother, she started defending me before the family.” Kami said that being a transgender gave her an identity and fame in the fashion industry.

President Dareehca’s Board Raza Haider said that Pakistan now has one of the strongest legislation on transgender community in the world that is appreciated at all forums on the global level. “The real challenge is to implement the law which would require collaborative efforts from all stakeholders. Pakistan's parliament passed a landmark bill on May, 2018 that gives the country's transgender citizens fundamental rights. The Act allows people to choose their gender and to have that identity recognized on official documents, including national IDs, passports and driver's licenses. The bill prohibits discrimination in schools, at work, on public modes of transit and while receiving medical care.

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