A Success for Transgender Community in Pakistan

Safeer Ullah Khan

Transgender community faces multiple challenges in Pakistan. It is only recently that they have been recognized as a separate gender by the State of Pakistan, and allowed to register themselves as citizens. ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 was another significant achievement in the legal sphere.

Though these are no mean achievements, the discrimination against transgender community is too deep rooted in the society to go with mere enactment of a law. Our recent history is choked with horrid cases of gender discrimination. Transgender persons were attacked, many got killed or tortured, and a few could not get medical care just because of their gender. They cannot be admitted to hospital wards for men nor to those for women. The reason is that the patients in those wards would not accept them as one of them. Doctors would not take them as equal human beings worthy of their attention.

However, slowly the situation is changing. The transgender community has taken the lead on demanding rights, and have found support from many quarters. Social media has been the most effective tool in this regard. The most recent success is their struggle against the discrimination at an international chain of five-star hotels.

A few transgender persons were not allowed to enter Pearl Continental Hotel, Bhurban. They raised this issue on social media, and the post went viral. Soon the top management of the hotel swung into action.

Transgender community with the management of PC Bhurban

They contact them, visited them in the hotel where they were staying, apologized for the bad behavior of the hotel security staff, and invited them over to a dinner. They, initially, rejected the invitation. To cut it short, the matter was amicably resolved after two or three rounds of negotiations, and the security in charge at PC Bhurban was shown the door.

The social media campaign and the negotiations were led by Nayyab Ali who is a young transgender rights activist and has recently been elected as Co-Chair of the Ending Violence Against Women/Girls (EVAW/G). We, at Pak NGOs, congratulate them and wish them all the best in their endeavor for a just society.

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