The Invisibles: Peshawar’s Transgender Pushed to Society’s Fringe

Written by journalist Izhar Ullah, this article addresses the cruel treatment and lack of equal rights experienced by transgender individuals in Peshawar, Pakistan. Specifically, this article follows the story of Mussarat, a transgender from Bajaur who ran away from his home at the age of 15. He experienced severe beatings from his father and was blamed for anything negative that happened to the family, claiming that Mussarat was a curse for the entire family and was to be held responsible for any ill-fate they experienced. Moreover, Mussarat was molested time and again by boys and men in the village and eventually felt forced to leave because of the “social embarrassment and hurdles” his presence created for his parents. He retreated to a transgender community in Peshawar to live under the care of transgender guru Khushboo.

Throughout Pakistan, transgender individuals are mistreated and not protected by the police or laws. “Most of the time, goons get drunk and come here asking for sexual favours,” explains Khushboo. “We can’t do anything as such people are influential and threaten us with dire consequences if we refuse.” Many transgender are raped and molested constantly and forced into prostitution. They are treated as pariahs of society who must live in poverty because they do not fit in anywhere. However, a glimmer of hope for these individuals came in 2011 when the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a verdict terming transgender individuals as equal citizens of Pakistan. While this verdict was a monumental first step in lessening the suffering of the transgender in Pakistan, many have yet to receive their citizen cards and few, if any, changes have been noted in their day to day lives. The government of Pakistan will need to work harder to increase the well-being of these members of society, if they are ever to feel like fully accepted members of society.