We have seen firsthand how much discrimination the transgender community has faced in Pakistan over the years. While, recent laws and social campaigns are empowering the trans community of Pakistan, it is important to note whether or not these changes are short lived.
The fact that one member of the trans community was allowed to get a drivers license should not upstage the hundreds that are still being mistreated in this country every day.
Admittedly, the transgender community has achieved some great milestones. In 2008, the Lahore High Court finally allowed a sex change operation to a woman whose doctor claimed he would not perform the operation without the courts approval. In 2010, this happened again.
In 2017, Pakistan finally issued the first third gender passport. From there on out, they were also allowed to have their self-assumed gender identities on national ID cards and drivers licenses. The first of such cases was when Ali Laila was issued a national identity card with gender marked ‘X’+ on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The bill tackled some already made progress in greater detail, and included some more guidelines. There was now a formal recognition of the identity of a transgender person on CNIC’s, drivers licenses, educational certificates, and passports. There was a clause that prohibited discrimination and harassment against the transgender community. The clause even created obligations on the government to help take care of it’s transgender population through setting up safe houses and protection centers, separate jails, special vocational training programs.
However, there are still so many cases of discrimination and violence against the trans community. In some instances, the police are even involved. In 2018, a trans woman was shot dead and dismembered in Peshawar. This month, on the 5th of June, a trans woman named Shakeela was kindapped from outside a mosque. The kidnappers beat her and shaved her head off because she didn’t give them the amount of money they demanded.
While the introduction of the bill was necessary, it will only have a considerable effect if there are actual consequences to not adhering to it. The question is, who is responsible? Who is making sure that people are being kept in check? A system of accountability is what we need.