We have rostered our resentment for the outliers, those who lie beyond the admissible fringes of our collective concessions, the outcasts, the freaks, the ungodly and, hence, the unnecessary. In our own adaptation of gender dissonance, we continue suspending sensitivity towards those who need it the most, dogged dossiers telling of more than 470 instances of violence in 2018 alone against the transgender community in just one province of the country – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. More than 62 trans women have been murdered there since 2015, simply for being an identity that discomforts the nomenclature of our traditional values. Adding to the groundswell of these grim statistics, another trans woman has recently been murdered and two others critically injured in the province’s Karak district.

It is the same perverse fable of results foretold: the symptoms of our culture, interventions of ‘integrity’ ridding the crescent upon the green of the tainted disequilibrium of those who play with black and white gender boxes, those who dare to be different. We are a people who cannot accept a differing viewpoint, a standalone voice rioting for change – we cannot muster the mandate to credit sexual identity with contradicting conventions. We are a people assembled to divide.

The Alliance for the Transgender and Inter-Sex Community (TransAction) claims that hate crimes perpetrated against the community are on the rise in the province, particularly by law enforcement personnel. Like a rickety house of cards atop a marmalade base, the heaving apathy of state institutions ensures that a thorough division of justice infrequently settles the score. Whilst the perpetrators get away with murder, who will watch the watchers? Who will disable the indifference with which the law tallies its due process?

We are a country so embittered by the design of free thought that doctors watch trans women die of gunshot wounds on gurneys because they remain indecisive about which ward the patient should be admitted in, morgues refuse to accept the bodies of trans women because it is believed their remains will soil their freezers and trans voters are still denied their referendum rights in conservative pockets of the country. The Karak victim too was taken to the hospital where medical staff allegedly refused to treat her resulting in an altercation between friends of the patient and hospital management. Apparently, it was deemed that a novice medical student would suffice. They didn’t. So endangered by the possibility of the non-conformist ‘other’, we have effectively lent an all-systems-shut-down when it comes to the acknowledgment of the trans franchise in a crueldysmorphia of empathy. Social media comments – the communal watering hole where we tend to put our most ignorant foot forward – to stories such as the Karak one, highlight that “a ‘Muslim’ doctor was only doing what a ‘Muslim’ does”. Ironically, that is the midnight fuel with which we burn the kindling of our spiritual afterthoughts.

We are a country so embittered by the design of free thought that doctors watch trans women die of gunshot wounds on gurneys because they remain indecisive about which ward the patient should be admitted in, morgues refuse to accept the bodies of trans women because it is believed their remains will soil their freezers and trans voters are still denied their referendum rights in conservative pockets of the country

Pakistan’s hesitant acceptance of the “third sex” rests on shaky ground. It extends only to those born with body alterity, not to those who actively choose to change their sex, to those who identify as a gender differing from the one they are born with. We have limited our surrogate sympathy to the constraints of what we can stomach and free choice does not reside within this purview. The trans community is routinely looked down upon as unclean and defective – a silent taboo. Trans people are not provided equity when it comes to work, social and political participation. Only after 2009 were they acknowledged as the country’s citizens with the issuance of national identity cards listing them as “third sex”, more absurd stigma to delegitimise their cohabitation. Whilst the government has taken some splintery steps towards recognising the rights and socio-economic needs of the trans community, they remain the most marginalised multitude in a dogmatic and resistant pecking order.

The coughing and spluttering acceptance of the one, many fear, will inevitably lead to the choice admission of the other, a decontamination of the our demonisation of homosexuality. Acceding to those who outwardly represent a contrasting gender construct – socially and within the legislative catalogue of reform – will encourage a rainbow of less desirable types influencing our way of life, destroying our family values and westernising our outlook. And we can’t have that brand of blasphemy.

As a society we have perfected the simulation of piety – we are one of the world’s most philanthropic nations, we observe rituals and doctrine yet we shy away from the very basic building block of spiritual essence no matter which creed one follows: goodness.



Our fear of hetronormative asymmetry, much like our terror regarding female sexuality, has led us down a rabbit hole of soft warfare and lone wolf jurisprudence. If we don’t acknowledge it, it will cease to exist. If we kill a few, the rest will cower. If we deny opportunities, they will seek them elsewhere. If we keep our sexual orientations hidden – much like our body parts and kinks – from public view, we can keep it ‘in the family’ and ‘under the rug’. If we assign a boogeyman, we can give it a face and, in some instances, that is the face of the trans community and everything they may be emboldened to represent.

The writer is a journalist and former Op-ed Editor of Daily Times. She is currently based in Auckland, New Zealand

Published in Daily Times, February 12th 2019.