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Ending Transphobia: Fostering Compassion and Understanding

by Humira Mirza
humaira mirza

Globally, unfair prejudice and discrimination against individuals who identify as transgender, often referred to as transphobia or trans bashing, continue to persist. In Pakistan, the transgender population, known as “khawaja siras,” faces extreme exclusion, leading to demeaning practices such as being compelled to stand at traffic lights and entertain onlookers for tips by clapping and dancing. The reasons behind the prevalence of transphobia in Pakistan are multifaceted, involving social, religious, and cultural elements that interact to promote discriminatory beliefs. The exclusion of transgender people is influenced by traditional binary gender norms and a lack of awareness about diverse gender identities. Rejected by their families, they frequently endure homelessness, limited access to education, and discrimination in employment. “Being Trans is like being a secret agent; you have to hide your true identity from everyone.” This compels many transgender individuals to resort to survival activities like begging or performing at traffic lights. The practice of coercing transgender individuals to stand at traffic lights and amuse passersby is one of the most disturbing outcomes of transphobia in the country. Beyond stripping them of their dignity, this practice exacerbates their marginalization by perpetuating misconceptions. These individuals, often adorned in vibrant attire and cosmetics, are dehumanized and reduced to mere sources of entertainment. Their performances, involving dancing and applause, tragically mirror how society exploits their vulnerability for financial gain. Societal pressure tragically forces transgender individuals into these degrading behaviors. The cycle of prejudice is fueled by the lack of acceptance and understanding surrounding transgender identities. Prejudice and misconceptions contribute to social exclusion, limiting access to employment, healthcare, and education. In the absence of legal safeguards and anti-discrimination laws, transgender people are left with few options, often resorting to degrading behaviors that perpetuate the cycle of transphobia. To counter misinformation and prejudice, education becomes a pivotal tool. Incorporating multiple gender identities into curricula can cultivate empathy and understanding from an early age. Additionally, sensitivity training and awareness programs in workplaces, schools, and communities can challenge preconceptions and foster acceptance. Legislative action is crucial in breaking the cycle of prejudice. Empowering transgender individuals requires implementing anti-discrimination legislation and policies that protect their rights. Equal access to opportunities in healthcare, education, and employment must be enshrined in the law. Furthermore, supporting transgender individuals in developing their skills and securing meaningful jobs can help break the cycle of exploitation. As expressed by JOYITA MONDAL, the First Transgender Judge of Lok Adalat and a social worker, “All governments want to appoint one person from a marginalized community to a prominent position so that the voices of others in the community are silenced. I won’t allow that to happen.” Media plays a substantial role in shaping public perceptions. Positive and respectful portrayals of transgender individuals in the media can dispel stereotypes and humanize their experiences. By showcasing their talents, achievements, and challenges, the media can counter the objectification that fuels the harmful cycle of exploitation. In conclusion, the transphobia faced by Pakistan’s transgender community is a deeply ingrained issue requiring urgent attention and action. Forcing transgender individuals into degrading performances at traffic signals underscores how society’s discriminatory attitudes and practices have marginalized this vulnerable population. It is imperative to treat transgender individuals with dignity, respect, and the freedom to live authentically, devoid of discrimination and exploitation. All they seek is reassurance that, regardless of gender, they will continue to be loved just as they were before.

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Sikandar August 25, 2023 - 2:31 pm

Great job

Mirza August 25, 2023 - 2:59 pm


Waseem Ghaffar August 26, 2023 - 9:05 am

Firstly, there should be rules over the allocation of places where they can study or grow. In Pakistan, it is not even described that where a transgender will study whether in boys schools and colleges or in girls. There should be laws described for transgender in societies so that they can easily answer their needs from state.


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