Is transgender community deprived of basic human rights?
This report deals with issues and discrimination against the transgender community, along with the sources and the consequences of these issues, with aid of various perspectives on them including global, local and personal.
The reason behind selecting this certain topic is that it is a significant matter globally as well as in our society, and unfortunately treated as a taboo topic. It is mandatory to spread awareness on this topic and the rights transgender community is greatly deprived, and their everyday struggle. Hence, it is a controversial topic of personal interest and from daily life experiences of observing mistreatment of transgender community. This topic falls under Belief systems.
The issues identified and to be recognized are:
1. Heathcare barriers
2. Employment and education issues
Transgender is a person whose gender identity differs from the one assigned to the individual at birth.
They are usually denied of basic health facilities on basis of conservative thinking and old beliefs, and due to lack of awareness or because the lack of expertise shown by specialists on this matter.
As a result, they face backlash on how they appear different or identify themselves and are deprived of their rights. Thus, leading to a magnifying scale of self-destruction, depression, alcohol or drug use, anxiety and somatization.
Transgender healthcare is not special but simple, safe and necessary requirement provided to non-trans people every day, unfortunately denied
specifically to trans community because of false information and bias. All across the world, transgender community face similar problems by being dismissed by health care providers and denied of appropriate treatments, it is immensely difficult for transgenders to access health facilities including rape-crisis centers, clinical care, domestic violence and homeless shelters. One of the biggest challenges they have to face is encountering health care providers who lack sufficient knowledge about them or resources required. Hormonal therapy sessions are provided, however on a small scale, due to lack of information and the mistreatment and harassment they have to go through. They also experience discrimination in public restrooms as others object to share it with them. While seeking health care, trans people often are forced to announce the name they went by before transitioning, or admitted in rooms with patients of inappropriate gender, which is disrespecting and unacceptable. Another frightening aspect is trans people are regularly prescribed inappropriate treatments. In 2015 Mid-May, Obama announced a law forbidding discrimination against clients or patients based on gender identity in schools and hospitals yet to no avail as it was not put into practice. Up to 60% of transgender community all around the world suffer from depression due to the increasing intolerance against them which jeopardizes their mental and physical health. Eight states in Europe fail to recognize transgender health rights, and seventeen of them enforce sterilization on those seeking their rights. More than 50% of the trans patient have to enlighten their healthcare providers on their identities. Even when a trans patient seeks aid for non-gender topics, focus remains on their gender, hormones or genitals. As reported by The National Transgender Discrimination Survey 2011, 19% of transgenders are rejected of healthcare, 28% of transgenders are harassed in health care facilities, 2% facing physical abuse. 70% of transgender admitted to face some sort of discrimination, as reported from Lambda Legal, 2010. In a requirement assessment, 2012, by Washington D.C. Trans Organization, 44% emphasized on healthcare. About 1 in 4 transgenders reported that they delay medical health care due to fear discrimination and abuse.
In Pakistan the healthcare issues regarding transgenders is just as worse as around the world. Access to not only hormone and transitional related issues but also to common injuries or illness is scarcely provided. Despite
given legal recognition as the third gender, access to quality healthcare is still very rare. Over the recent years, transgenders recent engagement in healthcare has decreased due to discrimination and stigma. Also, since most of the transgenders are subjected to poverty, they face financial barriers in order to get access to medical care. Hardly any laws to protect healthcare rights of transgenders are passed, and discrimination from healthcare providers is a hurdle due to lack of knowledge. While recently, protests for security of transgenders were organized, issues regarding access to healthcare were ignored. In 2016, a transgender girl lost her life, due to negligence of doctors which were indecisive as to which ward she should be put into. Another lost her life, after being recognized with HIV positive, she was forced to live near dump.
Issue 2- Employment and education
Education is a right of every human being, still grievously transgenders are even denied of it and valuable employment opportunities thus having no future to look forward to just because of their identity. After transitioning, they face complications in finding or keeping their jobs. All because of typical mindset, lack of public awareness which regard transitioning as a mental illness or sin, and deep-rooted ignorant communal customs, beliefs and intolerant practices.
Consequently, making them turn towards alternatives like theft, substance use, drug dealing etc. Thus, ending up on streets, homeless, and making them prone to police brutality or mistreatment and discrimination.
Globally, transgender remain victims of gender inequality, being deprived of education, abandoned by family, fired by employers, facing harassment at work. Most of the transgenders at birth are deserted by own parents, thus having no chance of getting quality education. Those fortunate enough to receive education are met with extreme bullying and biasness by peers and even teachers. For example, they are often called by wrong name or pronouns, comments being made on the way they dress or choose to identify themselves or by being asked invasive and inappropriate questions. At work, transgenders are often faced by severe offensive
conduct, rumors are made about them, and physical misbehavior or forced to use restrooms which don’t match with their gender identity. Most of the times, policies and procedures for workers are made without keeping transgenders in mind. In United States of America, transgenders are restricted by barriers of discriminations and prejudice to be part of the military. More than 70% of transgenders admitted to hiding their identity, or delaying their transitioning process, afraid of facing backlash or negative feedbacks. 50% have lower wages as compared to their co-workers and are refused of promotions. Nikki Barar, an eight-year-old transgender, was refused to be identified by her favored gender, and wasn’t allowed to wear girl’s uniform or restrooms. According to surveys conducted from 1996-2006, 20 to 57% of the transgender community reported being a victim of discrimination, harassment, being fired, or refused to being promoted.
In Pakistan, transgender community is neglected in every field of life, including education and employment. Deserted by families at birth who are too ashamed to take them in, transgenders end up on streets, homeless and in poverty. Having no other choice, they have to turn towards immoral ways to earn their living, they have to beg on streets or sing and dance at events. No educational or job opportunities are provided, thus closing the doors of bright future. Them studying in mainstream schools is not a reality, as they are met with verbal and physical harassment making them feel insecure and inferior. However, some progress has been made, as the first ever school for transgender was opened in Lahore on 15 April, 2018 and two more are reported to be set up in Islamabad and Karachi. Even, the NGO’s committed to Human Rights have turned backs on transgender rights. Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2013, permitted rights to transgenders according to which they were recognized legally, and allowed equal rights, which are still not put into practice or accepted by the conservative society. Riffie Khan, a transgender woman, with Double Master’s degree in Economics and Political Sciences, despite her accomplishments and potential, was turned down from job.
COURCES OF ACTION
We need to comprehend that health, education, and employment are just as much the rights of transgenders as it they are ours, and since their voices are not silenced, we need to speak on their behalf and need to take action for their rights.
First off, governments and NGO’s should create awareness and enforce anti-discrimination policies. Hospitals should be made safe and welcoming for transgenders, where they are accepted and their identities are respected. Medical institutions with trained, well equipped and educated staffs should be introduced, who understand the medical requirements of transgenders and provide equal access to healthcare facilities without dismissing them. Schools should have zero tolerance policies against discrimination on basis of gender identity and expression, to ensure an anti-harassing and bullying environment with the help of school staff. Equal work opportunities should be provided for transgenders, organizations should reach out to unemployed individuals to fill positions. Written policies regarding injustice against them should be made. Supervisors and co-workers should do all they can do to make sure transgenders are treated justly and are not oppressed. Jokes belittling ad debasing them should be reported and actions should be taken to avoid this situation.
CONCLUSION AND PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
In conclusion, I can, with confidence, based on the research and evidence, claim that transgender community is being deprived of basic human rights not only in Pakistan but worldwide, and subjected to wide spread harassment and discrimination. It is therefore, important to accept them and give them equal rights and privileges we enjoy and broadening the minds of people.
During the process of investigating the issues in depth and detail, my perspective evolved extremely, and made me realize lots of aspects regarding the issues which never crossed my mind prior to research. Before the complexity of the situation was unknown to me, the report gave me the opportunity to acknowledge the hurdles transgender community has to go through every day just to get access to basic privileges that we have no difficulty in accessing, and that it’s not just their struggle but ours also to support them and stand by them. It made me more aware on this topic; and
helped me discover what as an individual I can do. I can start interacting with transgender, and understand their problems first hand, respecting their identities, and using the pronouns they prefer, and not avoid believing in stereotypes. It taught me to be more vocal about transgenders and their problems in order to make them feel recognized, supported and to break stereotypes and spread awareness. If I see, remarks or jokes being made about trans community which make them uncomfortable, it’s my duty to stop them and speak out against them and ensure a safe atmosphere for them; and most importantly continuing to educate myself.