It is a crass abuse of power to ridicule someone for what they can’t control, to strip them of dignity because their bodies are ‘different’. In the case of Pakistan, we wish it were possible to say that transgender people are discriminated against because the tyranny of heteronormativity is rife.
But heteronormal people include women; and in this country, the normal is always a brown, healthy, cisgender man.
At Saddar Police station in Karachi, there was a bit of a carnival going on after two transgender women were shepherded in after a scuffle in the streets. Of course, in a thana — that burgeoning haven of male chauvinism — they weren’t just going to be booked for their crime. The two trans people were subjected to gut-wrenching humiliation, making for punishment which far surpassed whatever crimes they might have committed on the streets.
Made to strip naked before an array of guffawing policemen, groped, verbally abused, the two clamoured for safer jails and wished they could spend the night in the safety of their homes. The policemen at the thana engaged not with apprehended criminals that day, but with playthings. They justified their devilish insensitivity by citing the ‘immoral’ activities of the transgender women, who sang and danced publicly to make a living. Little did the policemen realise that it is mindsets like theirs which keeps transgender people from enjoying equal access to other employment opportunities.
The mistreatment of women, of transgender people, of differently-abled people — and of even animals — on the streets of the country points at a scathing lack of empathy, indicating that our value system, our morals, our mainstream social norms, are completely skewed towards privileging a certain type of people who, ironically, do not even make up a numerical majority.
In a society where women are yet to be regarded as normal human beings, being a transgender woman makes for an almost deathly intersectionality. Education, empathy, and increased homogenisation are the only solutions to this stifling status quo.