Recently, Salman Ahmad – a previously active PTI supporter who often sung at rallies – came out with a tweet mocking Bilawal Bhutto. The tweet reeked of anti-trans sentiment and was accompanied by a doctored picture portraying him in a feminine light. The very fact that he thought it was okay to do this is symptomatic of a bigger problem in politics.
The question is, who set the bar for this kind of political “satire”? And the answer to that is clear. Influential figures like Imran Khan and Sheikh Rasheed are the ones who initiated this kind of mockery. There are countless videos on the Internet labelled “Sheikh Rasheed’s funny comments about Bilawal”, for instance. This proves that not only have they done it multiple times but, going by the amount of views such clips have attracted, also that Pakistanis enjoy the bullying.
It is not appropriate for prominent political leaders to mock their opposition by calling them “Sahiba” and “Billo Rani” or childishly imitating their accents on national television. Firstly, it is unbecoming of politicians who represent an entire nation. Secondly, by using femininity in a man as a basis for mockery, they end up hurting an entire gender: trans women. And finally, such posturing has provided a green light to people like Salman Ahmad who are now doing the same thing.
There is a need for politicians and their supporters to act more responsibly. Now, oppressed communities like that of the Khawaja Siras’ are making huge strides. They have not only received protection via legislation but are also working actively to establish a presence in professional spheres of life. Moreover, all women in Pakistani society are constantly trying to reclaim their femininity in different ways. It is time to take gender out of politics and fixate on real faults that matter.