By Shanawar Jura

“Am I not human? I dance at every wedding, but I cannot have my own. I cannot get married or a job. I make people happy. I am neither male nor female. Am I not human?”

These are the words of a young writer, Shoaib Mehmood, who is highlighting the problems of the queer community.

In fact, these are just some of the problems that are hampering the progress of the third gender in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. These issues are related to their identity, rights and almost all aspects of their life.  

Although Pakistani parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2018, which gives the third gender the right to vote, equal treatment and other fundamental rights, no significant change seems to have come about in their lives.

The very first setback for a queer child is being ostracized by the family. Usually, in Pakistani society, people neglect their queer child, because of which the child becomes homeless. This is the first right that is snatched by the third gender’s own family.

Next is education, which also becomes a challenge without a family and income. As a queer child leaves the family, he or she tries to survive on their own, but is unable to. During the same period, he/she cannot get an education that ultimately affects his or her thought process, upbringing and approach towards practical life among other things.

In addition to this, society also shuns them; people laugh at them. All these experiences make the third gender more vulnerable and volatile.

The question is, is the transgender rights bill is enough to ensure provision of basic rights to the community? The answer is certainly no. In this very context, there are multiple things to do: the foremost is to caret awareness among society about this natural phenomenon. It is the dire need to educate society that the queer are also humans with the same rights as everybody else around them: family, education, employment, inheritance and all other rights.

The second step is that the government should not only make laws for the transgender community, but also see to it that the laws are implemented strictly. For example, the government should legislate against rape, especially within the community. Further, the government should set up rehabilitation centers for the community in order to ensure their safety and development so they could live life as freely as others.

All these steps are imperative for the prosperity of the third gender as they are an equal part of society being equal human beings. No one should neglect them and their rights on the basis of their gender.

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