By: Ali Hussnain Warraich
Sociologist, Activist, Entrepreneur,
Student of the Law
Abandoned by their families and neglected by society, the transgender community in Pakistan faces many issues. Deprived of their basic rights, they lead a very problematic life, with no space for them in any sphere of life. Beaten, harassed and with continuous sexual abuse, they are trying to survive with the hope that things will change for them one day. They are waiting for the day when society will treat them as Human Beings and they will get the respect that they deserve.
Where education is a fundamental right for every human being, transgenders in Pakistan are not allowed to get admissions in regular schools. This erroneous attitude of the educational institutions has deprived the transgenders in Pakistan to even get a basic education which has resulted in a worrisome condition of the transgender community. With no education or skill of any kind, they have to turn to begging in order to survive for the rest of their life. Some of them dance on weddings and baby showers for their survival and they are often sexually abused and beaten by their audience. And only a few, “The Lucky Ones”, manage to secure a sustainable income with jobs like makeup artists, cooks, hairdressers, and fashion models.
An NGO has taken a good step to improve the lives of transgenders of Pakistan. They seek to empower these transgenders with a different set of skills so they can earn their living through respectable means.
The Gender Guardian
The Gender Guardian is a school for transgenders, located in Garden Town, Lahore. The institute is affiliated with the non-governmental organization ‘Exploring Future Foundations’. The vision of The Gender Guardian school is, “Our vision is clear-cut: facilitating the empowerment of one of Pakistan’s most marginalized communities”.
This institution aims to provide quality education and training to the transgender community in Pakistan. Their goal is to equip the transgender students with the necessary skills they need to gain employment. Along with formal education, they provide courses such as cooking, stitching and driving to their students. It is an effort to transform the life of transgenders so they do not have to beg, just to survive the day. With such training, they can gain a job with a sustainable income. The Gender Guardian is doing a great effort to make a change in the lives of transgenders.
Driving classes are provided to the students so they can get employment in a house or in a cab company. They are training their student to be good cooks in order to get jobs in homes and restaurants. Stitching and makeup training are also given to the student and they help them get jobs as well.
By challenging the social prejudices against transgenders, The Gender Guardian is helping the transgender community to come out of the shadows by giving them hope for a better life. With minimum resources, they are doing their maximum effort to help as many transgenders as they can.
The Gender Guardian school is a good initiative, but it is very difficult for the transgender community of Pakistan to take advantage of such institutions. It is hard for them to break out of the life they are living. Their only worry is to survive the day somehow and their life goes by day by day in an effort to get two meals a day, and the fact is, on some days, they do not even get one.
What shatters the heart is, they are in this situation because of the abandonment by their families. Considering them a punishment of God, feeling ashamed and scared by the wrong prevailing concept about the transgenders in the society, parents gave them away soon as they came to know they birthed a trans child. Their own parents have taken away their rights and left them to rot.
Parents should be aware of the fact that a trans child is not a punishment of God and the society needs to cast aside the inaccurate perspective about the transgenders. If they were taken care of by their families, loved and respected, educated and skilled, they will never have to live the devastating life that they are living today.