It is not every day that we get to hear news that makes our hearts brim with hope. To state that the Transgender community in Pakistan is discriminated against would be an understatement. Transgenders to this day, strive for acceptance, strive to prove that they deserve to be treated with respect. Why does one have to be treated differently because they don’t fit your idea of “normal” or because they belong to a “third” gender?
However, today is not the day to lament over our country’s shortcomings. Today we celebrate Sara Gill, who has defied all odds to become Pakistan’s first transgender doctor. Having graduated from Jinnah University Karachi, the 23-year-old Sara revealed that she was initially advised not to disclose her gender to her peers. Although she listened, she would later on proudly own who she is and according to an interview, her friends and the university’s admin were nothing but supportive. Of course, society did present many challenges in her journey but if she had let them get to her, she wouldn’t be here today making history.
Before completing her degree, she told Daily Pakistan that her family told her not to reveal her identity or she would have to arrange her university fees herself.
In addition to being a doctor, she also runs Gender Interactive Alliance – an NGO striving to promote Transgender rights in Pakistan.
Just like her, there are other trans women who have reached great heights through their tremendous contributions & are truly making a mark through their career choices. Let’s get to know them, shall we?
Nisha Rao is the first transgender to obtain a law degree in Pakistan. Being born in Lahore, Nisha Rao moved to Karachi when she was just 16 years old to get a Bachelor’s degree. She managed to graduate with a degree in Political Science and Economics. Nisha then went on to pursue a Master’s degree in International Relations. It wasn’t until 2018 that she graduated with a Law degree from Sindh Muslim Law College and got her law license in 2019. (Source: NBC)
It wasn’t an easy road for Nisha. According to her, she had to beg on the streets at night to pay for her education. Regardless of her struggles, she didn’t lose hope and got herself enrolled in the University of Karachi to pursue MPhil in Law last year. Her Mphil is equivalent to LLM and will take two years to complete.
As a lawyer, Nisha Rao mostly takes pro bono cases and according to an interview she gave to NBC last year, she had worked on around 50 cases and is determined to help more transgender people.
Apart from being a lawyer, she has also founded an NGO called the Trans Pride Society which is a platform that aims to provide transgender in Pakistan the respect they deserve. It also empowers them to get an education, soft skills, and economic independence.
Aisha Mughal is a Transgender rights activist who works for the Ministry of Human Rights. In 2017, she became the first transgender lecturer at the visiting faculty at Quaid-e-Azam University. Aisha also has an MPhil degree in Human Resource Management.
In a historic moment in 2020, Aisha Mughal became the first transgender woman to represent the Government of Pakistan at the UN. She was included in Pakistan’s delegation at the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee in Geneva. For doing so, Pakistan became the first country to include a transgender woman in its national delegation at the UN CEDAW Committee (Ministry of Human Rights).
Rimal Ali was one of the first to enter the modeling industry as a transgender woman and paved the way for many like her to pursue their dream. She has also appeared in Pakistani films like Saath Din Mohabbat In & Rahbra.
In an unfortunate incident, she was kidnapped and tortured in 2021. People were infuriated when the news broke out. However, soon after, PTI appointed her as a coordinator for the Gender Discrimination of Insaf Welfare Wing. She gracefully took on this role to ensure others like her don’t have to endure the mistreatment she did for being transgender.
Jannat Ali is a trans artist and activist with an MBA degree. The list of her credentials is long and we couldn’t be more delighted to share it with you. She is the executive director of Track-T – which is a platform that advocates and works for transgender rights. Track-T also organized Pakistan’s first Trans Pride in 2018 – a monumental step for the country.
She has made notable contributions when it comes to educating the transgender community as she had worked as a consultant for a literacy program for transgenders.
Diving into her love for the Arts, she is a trained Kathak dancer. Not only that but she was also involved in a theatre play called “The Third Tune” based on the true stories of transgender persons. Currently, she is the host of an infotainment show called “Journey with Jannat” that features renowned people from various fields who come to the show to share their experiences.
There is still a long way to go but trans women like Sara Gill, Nisha Rao, Aisha Mughal, Rimal Ali, and Jannat Ali are testament to the fact that we can too, open our hearts and minds to our transgender community. Let’s try to be better humans and not make things more difficult for them than they already are. We cannot even begin to imagine the number of battles they have to fight every day to justify being born with an identity they did not choose, yet are held accountable for. That day isn’t far when we witness a more tolerant and accepting Pakistan, one can hope.
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Sources used in this article include Daily Pakistan, Dunya News, NBC News, The Express Tribune, ProPakistani & LinkedIn.
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