Mainstreaming of transgenders


The decision to include the transgender community in the upcoming census would go a long way in fixing the historic injustices done to this marginalised community in Pakistan. The instruction to do so came from the Lahore High Court, which was hearing a petition filed by Waqar Ali. The importance of the inclusion lies in the power that the census, an ostensibly innocuous instrument, in effect has. That power stems from the mere quality that the categories used by the census are formal categories and this makes the groups that the categories are representing visible in official businesses. Often affirmative action by the state is taken and special rights recognised on the basis of these categories. Simply put, official recognition opens up avenues for entry into the sate, with even contestation of resources between groups taking place along the lines of the categories of the census, and this is something that is much needed by the transgender community.
It is no secret that transgenders in Pakistan live in a state of perpetual shame and ridicule. Societal attitude towards them leaves them with very few options. They are in-practice barred from entering any mainstream profession, and hence for their survival they have little choice but to mould themselves in the stereotype expected of them in order to get a meagre means of living. Their entire social network gets circumscribed within the profession of begging, dancing, and prostitution, and this leaves them vulnerable to those looking to profit from their misery. To make matters worse, even state officials on ground are apathetic to their plight, as they largely have the same attitude towards them as the society as large.