As the general population of Pakistan vows to find solutions to problems like poverty, unemployment and education etc., the transgender community has vowed to be treated, at least at par, with the “general” population.Transgender communities have existed in most parts of the world with their own local identities, customs and rituals. They have got different names in different cultures and states of the world. In Pakistan, they are termed as khwaja-saraa, hijra and khusrra. The exact population of the transgender community in Pakistan is still not known, but Trans Action (an NGO working for the rights of transgender people) claims the current population of transgender community to be around 2 million, most of whom dwells in urban areas. But still they remain unrepresented in the political structure of Pakistan.Considering the global scenario, the transgender community entered into mainstream politics in Germany and the United States in 1990, France in 2001 and England in 2002. Pakistan recognized its transgender population in legal terms in 2009, being relatively nascent in this regard. Pakistan’s Apex Court ordered the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to issue National Identity Cards to the transgender people that same year. However, till today the social and cultural sufferings of the transgender community in Pakistan have not yet ended. Though some developments have been seen in the status of the transgender community in the country between 2009 and 2018, like quotas in government jobs, the first exclusive school for transgender people established in Lahore, rise of transgender people in journalism and the modelling industry etc., but the cultural barriers and cultural violence against them still has not been effectively contained.The main factor behind the violence is that the society is not able to come to terms with the fact that this community does not conform to the socially accepted gender bifurcation.The roots of the prevailing bias against the transgender community date back to the British Raj. After the induction of Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, transgendersm and eunuchs were included in the forbidden/criminal tribesTracing back to the early history of the Indian subcontinent, the transgender/eunuchs were a reputed segment of society. They used to be specially deputed in the living areas and bedrooms of royal ladies of the Mughal families. They were a trusted and respected segment of society, members of which were specially appointed in royal palaces to teach manners and royal etiquettes to the children therein. The roots of rejection against the transgender community date back to the process of colonisation. After the induction of Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, the transgender/eunuchs were included in the forbidden/criminal tribes. The community was gradually compelled to flee from their dignified lifestyles.Criminality and sexual non-conformity were connected more bluntly in the 1897 amendment to the Criminal Tribes Act, called ‘An act for the Registration of Criminal Tribes and Eunuchs’. Under this Act, the local government was required to keep a register of the names and residences of all eunuchs who were “reasonably suspected of kidnapping or castrating children or committing offences under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code”. Any eunuch so registered could be arrested without warrant and punished with imprisonment of up to two years or with a fine or both. The law also decreed eunuchs as incapable of acting as a guardian, making a gift, drawing up a will or adopting a son. Such legislative measures pushed the community to live in peripheral zones, with limited interaction with the “better social class or the accepted genders”. For their subsistence, they began dancing and entertaining people to earn some livelihood. With the passage of time, they were forced into sex work, begging and jobs that defiled their dignity. The culture that developed against them back then has continued for centuries and is still persisting today.In my opinion, all political parties must address the needs of the community. They must have exclusive policies and development plans for education, counselling and equal access of opportunities. Moreover, special employment programs must be introduced for them, along with easy loan schemes, in order to encourage business and job creation to provide them decent earning alternatives. Also, full fledge government organisations/statutory bodies may be created for their overall welfare. Besides all these efforts, most importantly, we must accept the existence of a third biological sex and that nobody has control over their sex. However, one has a right to choose their gender and behave accordingly. It is high time that we educate ourselves, our youth and our children to treat the transgender community with the respect they deserve.The writer is an Advocate, Social Activist and Independent ResearcherPublished in Daily Times, July 30th 2018.