Back in May, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) passed a judgement against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 as it perceived certain provisions to be against Islamic injunctions. The decision was not only widely contested, but was condemned for the trickle-down effect it would have on the transgender community. Low and behold, we have now come face to face with a phenomenon that should spark immense concern for the already oppressed minority. For months now, Nadra has halted the ‘X’ NIC registration which means that legally, members of the transgender community are not Pakistani citizens.
With the option of choosing ‘X’ when filling out gender information during the CNIC registration process being scrapped indefinitely, members of the transgender community have been rendered stateless. This means that constitutionally protected rights and fundamental freedoms cannot, in theory, be guaranteed and should there be any violations, there is no system of accountability in place. The mental toll of having to pick a category of female or male aside, the fact that we are not willing to recognise the existence of transgender people is a problem in and of itself. It alludes to the larger narrative of eliminating an entire segment of the population from existence, and having them defy who they are in pursuance of conforming to the traditional—and rather ignorant—mindset of society.
There is ample evidence of the degree of persecution the transgender community faces on a daily basis. Whether it’s the perpetuation of violence, discrimination, or negligence, there is an apparent prejudice against a community on the basis of how they are born–something they have no control over. The 2018 piece of legislation was hailed as the single biggest step taken by the country to recognise the community, and make an attempt to guarantee and protect their rights. More specifically, the ability to choose their gender on official documents was considered to be a landmark decision that was an emblem of humanity but with the FSC’s decision, we digressed.
The effort that Nadra underwent to establish an effective line of communication with the transgender community was broken, and as a result it left certain individuals stateless. In the process, it brought back fear and trauma that came along with being a part of this community. Islamic injunctions recognise the existence of intersex people, so why can’t we come up with a system that grants them this recognition as well? This is something that the authorities must dwell on, and while the FSC’s judgement is still in its appeal period.