View Full Version : Voting for transgenders - AMINAH MOHSIN - 29 June 2018

29th June 2018, 11:56 AM
Can this combat the stigma?
Malawi has its own set of values that defines the rights and wrongs for its people. The same characteristic which is venerated as an acceptable attribute in one community might be deemed as a reason for death sentence in another. Albinism is one such crime which has cost 22 recorded murders and dozens of abductions in Malawi in the past four years. Killing such genetically diseased individuals for their body parts that are brought into use in witchcraft-related rituals and potions has increased unprecedentedly. To combat the stigma deeply rooted in Malawian community, the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi has announced to put forward six candidates for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

“We want to show the public that we are more than our skin,” said Overstone Kondowe, director of the association.

A section of Pakistani society we mock as hijre is facing a similar dilemma since forever. The level of persecution they are compelled to endure has only risen with the passage of time. Even legal safeguards could not protect their rights. Giving them employment opportunities, allowing them to register as citizens of this country by letting them possess national identity card, and giving importance to their opinion by registering them as voters are all baby steps that we have taken in these years. Nevertheless, the curse has been spreading its venom in all possible directions.

NADRA had started registering the third gender in 2012 following a verdict given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, yet approximately 90 percent transgenders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained deprived of this right owing to anonymity of their fathers as well as lack of provision to state the name of their gurus in lieu of fathers. Be that as it may, the 2017 census proved to be a landmark in this regard as registering transgenders as citizens of Pakistan will not only give this community its long-lost identity but will also help the state in being informed about their numbers, needs and predicament.

As mentioned above, the community’s suffering and plight has a lot more to do with public attitude than legislation. From begging on roads to entering schools and colleges for education, the journey has been long and tiring with opponents as close in relation as parents. A child belonging to the third gender does not have to face ostracising repudiation only from its parents but is also deserted by the whole society. Their souls do not matter to anyone. It is their body which is later sold and made money out of. The clap of their hands has become their identity, their painted faces are what we know of them, but no one can really know what lies in their hearts.

Watching other kids going to schools wearing uniforms, feeling helpless while gazing at them playing gender-specific games, assignment of your profession to you without any qualification or specialised training is what dazzles a sane mind. But all sanity is lost when it comes to dealing with transgenders. Watching a bunch of boys dancing in the rain, dabbling in the puddles and singing songs pertinent to the occasion and suddenly becoming the centre of attention and a sight for the crowd after joining them in enjoyment is as humiliating as being denied treatment on the basis of undefined gender and, therefore, indecisiveness over which ICU to admit the patient in.

Winning respect for women in this society was a tough task, witnessing the prayer be accepted in the third gender’s favour seems unbelievable

But the good news is that things are now evolving, mind-set is changing and transgenders are earning their due space in the society. Marvia Malik made headlines some time back by becoming the country’s first transgender news anchor. We have many educated and dedicated transgenders who have been fighting for fundamental rights since long; Bubbly, who won her bread respectfully by running a canteen in National College of Arts; Sarah Gill who is Pakistan’s first medical doctor currently working with a non-profit organistaion; Rimsha, who has been entrusted with the job of distributing utility bills by Clifton Cantonment Board; and Madam Boota of PP-78 Jhang who contested by-election back in 2016. Hence where Malik’s undeterred resolve should be praised, the news channel authorities also deserve our applause because if society is to be blamed for making a trait a curse then the same society should be appreciated when it makes advancements towards progress and maturity.

Another remarkable step is about to be taken in Pakistan as that in Malawi. All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN), a rights group dedicated to bringing into spotlight emerging leaders from the transgender community, in collaboration with the Election Commission of Pakistan, organised a national consultation this month and presented the names of 13 candidates who are to contest the 2018 general elections. It includes the president and secretary general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa TransAction Association along with others hailing from cities like Mansehra.

A concern, however, was shared during the conference regarding harassment of two potential candidates from Peshawar and Haripur who were beaten up and castigated after their intentions to contest elections became public. The president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s association admits that there are little or no chances at all for transgender candidates to win a sat in an open contest. Owing to mainstream political parties being incapable of dealing with their issues, APTEN has announced to launch its own political party after the elections along with initiating a proper movement for reserved seats.

While government officials have assured to provide adequate security and method to transgender community to campaign and contest the general elections, it is our duty to ensure its implementation.

Winning respect for women in this society was a tough task, witnessing the prayer be accepted in the third gender’s favour seems unbelievable.

No being wilfully takes birth with genetic or neurological disorder, then why punish the creation of God for the actions of God? We already know the answer, we just need to realise and admit it.