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Citizen Voices Gender

‘There’s nothing secret in funeral prayers of transgender persons’ – an interview with Sanam Bukhari

There are three types of transgender persons.

  • Transgender by birth
  • Transgender due to to erectile dysfunction
  • A normal man who behaves like women

Transgender persons are often meted out with inhuman treatment. Everyone has right to express their feelings without any fear and still get their rights without discrimination, but transgender persons are still deprived of their fundamental rights in Pakistan. They could not even obtain education in public or private schools because they aren’t accepted by the society.

Transgender community faces problems in getting medical treatment, they are subjected to sexual harassment, have zero freedom of expression, high rate of mental illness and physical torture and they are not even able to earn easily at public places owing to their gender identity.

This is what Ms Sanam Bukhari, President Sanam Fakir Welfare Tanzeem Sindh province of Pakistan and focal person for transgender [khowajasara] community of Sindh, said while talking about the problems of trans people in Pakistan. She’s a resident of Sukkur district. She further elaborated that after the birth of a transgender, most families become aggressive and have inhuman and inappropriate behavour towards them owing to their gender. They are not socially accepted by their families and their families mostly prefer to hand over them to the trans groups.

The transgender community has always suffered oppression and skepticism and they could not get education in public and private schools owing to inappropriate behaviour of their classmates, teachers and lack of attention of their parents. However, they have been living in extreme poverty for ages in this part of the world, she said.

It is the first time in Pakistan that transgender persons were counted during the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017 and according to results there are 10,418 transgender people in Pakistan. Out of them 6709 transgender people reside in Punjab, 2527 in Sindh, 913 counted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 133 in Islamabad, 109 in Baluchistan and 27 in Federal Administered Tribal Area [FATA].

Besides, people say that transgender can only sing, dance and could be used as sex-workers, adding transgender persons were being tortured verbally, physically and sexually in public places. As a result, they are unable to secure any respectable earning due to their sexual profiling and lack of education, subsequently compelling them to pick prostitution as their profession to earn wages.

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She went on saying that trans people are humans, just like other normal people and they have the right to get better education, appropriate residence, good job and equal opportunities as others because Islam has allowed equal rights to everyone without discrimination of gender, but she lamented we have still deprived the transgender community of their basic fundamental rights so far.

She left no stone unturned and got success in getting five killers of transgender persons arrested. These people were killed in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Dadu and Dera Murad Jamali, the district of Balochistan province of Pakistan.

Replying to a question about mysterious funeral prayers of transgender persons, Ms Sanam said with a smile on her face that there’s nothing secret in funeral prayers of transgender persons; their funeral prayers are held by their heirs in normal way like other normal people.

Another question about special language being spoken by transgender persons, she admitted that their language is considered or known as “Farsi” which they speak with one another across Pakistan.

It is the first time in Pakistan that transgender persons were counted during the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017 and according to results there are 10,418 transgender people in Pakistan. Out of them 6709 transgender people reside in Punjab, 2527 in Sindh, 913 counted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 133 in Islamabad, 109 in Baluchistan and 27 in Federal Administered Tribal Area [FATA].

Moreover, 2767 transgender persons reside in the country’s rural areas and 7651 reside in the urban areas, media reported.

‘Protection of Rights Act 2018’ was also approved by senate. It currently awaits the signature of President Mamnoon Hussain, after which the bill will become law.

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A couple of months ago, 15 driving licenses were issued to transgender persons in KP. The government of Pakistan has taken important steps for welfare of the transgender person including making CNICs, issuing driving licenses, counting them in census, and passed Protection of Rights for Transgender despite there is dire need to devise a plan to resolve the core issues of transgender community in Pakistan.

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