Pakistan is a land of great diversity with indefinable cultures (& subcultures), ethnicities etc. You’d think the people here would be open minded, accepting and understanding. It is quite the opposite actually.
I would like to start this article by mentioning how everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that I do not intend to offend anyone with this.
I want you to take a second and think about the following. if a friend or a family member tells you they like wearing a certain color of lipstick or if they prefer wearing sneakers instead of sandals, how will you respond?
Will you force them to wear the lipstick color you like better? Will you throw all their sneakers away and force them to put on sandals? No, you would not!
But when it comes to lifestyles, the people of this country are as narrow-minded as they come. And to be honest, all of us are guilty of having thought of our own way of living being better than the next person's. The term lifestyle might just be another nine lettered word to you but in reality, is a blanket term that includes our religions, cultural and social norms, ethnicities, sexual orientations and what not.
Blankets are supposed to keep the gray winters and the gloominess that they bring away but this blanket term has been the reason many people have choked themselves to death (in other words, killed themselves) or have been killed by this very blanket term wrapped around their mouth to stop them from breathing.
I, personally, wasn't as open minded as I am now before I had the internet. This window that took me to the world that existed outside my home and school opened my eyes. It made me realize how a world existed that deviated in every way from what was socially and statistically normal for me. And at first, this new found information was extremely overwhelming. But eventually, I realized how it was okay to deviate. I learned to accept people for what they were even if we had different thought processes.
Today, among the people that are being killed in Pakistan in the name of honor and religion are our transgender brothers and sisters. And for what reason, you might ask? To answer that, they do not have just “A” reason, but a couple. These said reasons range from “what will the society say” to “We’ve given birth to an abomination”. And for a child to either be kicked out as soon as they’re born, left at the mercy of what people call “hijra Bastiaan”, or very rarely, if the parents decide to keep the child, grow up listening to words like abomination, disgrace, disappointment etcetera from their own family let alone others must feel how having an already decaying wound being stabbed time and time again feels.
If their right to live isn’t taken from them at their very birth and they grow up, they are looked down upon by the society itself, not allowed any education or jobs for that matter. Even in such harsh conditions, these people go out and find work. They dance at weddings and irony of the matter is, they’re kicked out of there as well by people who are supposed to provide us security and safety; our so-called “policemen”.
But what can these poor souls expect from anyone else when their own parents treat them like garbage?
The one thing that is important among many others is that we are no one to decide if someone gets to live or not, we don’t have a say in whether someone should get an education or not. It is their right given to them by their creator himself so who the hell are we to take that away from them?
Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”.
And today, these people are beaten to death. For what reason, you ask? For the mere fun of it. And some are left on the brink of death (quite literally), where they die a painful, heart-wrenching death because this country doesn’t have enough facilities to treat them. Transgender female Alisha who was shot eight times earlier this year by a customer succumbed to her wounds at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital a week after being shot. A post on TransAction KP’s facebook said, “Alisha died in LRH because she never received intensive medical attention.”
A female who’s been shot eight times was not even put in a decent bed/ward, let alone treated for her wounds. For what reason, you ask? Because the people in both the male and the female wards were unwilling to have an injured transgender be treated near them. Members of the TransAction Alliance (TAA) put up heart-wrenching posts and pictures of how they were belittled and ridiculed for having brought their sister to a hospital that was supposed to give her the medical attention she needed. Qamar Naseem said, “The doctors kept asking the injured Alisha if she danced only and how much she charged whereas the blood laboratory guy asked them if their blood was HIV positive or not,”.
These people are belittled and alienated to the extent that they speak of their birth as their biggest regret.
In an effort to raise awareness and make the transgender community feel accepted, Moiz Rehan (A student of Williams College) and his team worked on a project named #IftaarWithPyaar - An Iftar project for the transgender community in Islamabad/Rawalpindi.
“The project was aimed at creating more acceptance of the transgender community in the civil society and to appreciate them by hosting an Iftaar for them. We served Iftaar to over 50 members of the transgender community and it was the first time that most of the project team had ever interacted so openly with the TGs. Helping them make the iftar, talking to them, and eating with them was made us realize that they're amazing, confident, and hilarious people and are as "normal" as anyone.”, said Moiz.
These people are shunned from place to place for being who they are, they’re made out to be all about begging, money and prostitution. But in reality, we are the ones who drive them to that extent.
There are also people like Bijli (baji) and Roshni (baji) who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity. They along with Muniba Mazari, a Pakistani artist, writer, and motivational speaker, hold a Food Drive every Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm in the F11 Markaz (opposite Gloria Jeans).
I know hoping that the LGBTQ+ people will get better living conditions straight (pun intended) away is too much to ask for. But all I want for now is that even if your opinions are different and you don’t approve of them (which, by the way, you are no one to do so) please keep them to yourself and don’t make their already hard life even harder!