Alisha was the Peshawar coordinator and one ofeight board members of the Trans Action Alliance (TAA), an association of transgender groups working to safeguard the rights of the trans community. Tragically in January 2018 she was shot eight times by an assailant. But the most appalling part of this story is that when she was rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital, the doctors refused to treat her. As if this was not cruel enough, the staff and patients in both the male and female wards refused to grant her a bed in either ward. For a whole day, the members of the TAA begged the doctors to help her, but to no avail. “While we gathered in the hospital to request the doctors to treat critically injured Alisha, the crowd, consisting solely of men, surrounded us, commenting on our appearances,” the TAA members told the media, adding “many asked us the amount we charge for one night, others inquired about our home addresses. Some even asked if our breasts were natural or not”. Today there are several countries where animals have more fundamental rights than transgender people do in Pakistan. Horrific stories like Alisha’sare all too common, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). According to the TAA,in 2018 a total of 53 cases of violence against transgender persons have been reported from KP. From 2015 to 2017, a total 1,131 cases of violence against transgender persons were reported in the province.55 of these victims were killed. Of them, 42 were killed by their intimate partners and four were killed in the name of honour by their own families. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the KP police does not seem to take the plight of the transgender community seriously. In January, an 18-year old transgender person was kidnapped and gang-raped by unknown persons in Peshawar’sGulbahar area.In a complaint filed at the Gulbahar police station, the victim wrote,“they picked me up, raped me throughout the night and set me free the next morning”. Still, no action was taken until the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) took notice of the incident. According to reports, initially the police hadn’t even filed the First Information Report (FIR) or sent the victim for a medico-legal examination. The Pashtuns’ love for dance and music allows the KP’s transgender community to earn a living. By dancing at weddings for money, transgender individuals can earn enough to ensure their survival. Hence how they are shunned and discriminated against is quite ironic. Many of them, who also work as sex workers, are often raped at the weddings they attend. “There is no concept of consent in this part of the world”, says Farzana Jan. the founding member of Trans Action Pakistan.“If a sex worker has a deal with one person to spend the night with her, there is a fair chance he will bring his friends along to rape her” she adds. In the famous 2009 case, Khaki vs Rawalpindi,the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan granted groundbreaking rights to the transgender community in Pakistan. For the first time, a Pakistani court gave the transgender community the right to inheritance. The SC also officially recognised them as a third gender, instructing the authorities to include them in the voter lists. The court also ordered the relevant authorities to ensure their right to basic education and protection. Despite the critical circumstances the trans community faces in KP, when the members of the TAA went to meet the province’s CM, his assistant told them, “It isn’t appropriate for the CM to meet you people” However, these legal reforms have remained limited to paperwork. For example, the SC also announced a two percent quota for transgender individuals in all government and non-government departments, which they have never received. And while they did vote in the previous election, no one paid attention to the problems they faced while making their NICs. Anddespite the frequency of violent attacks on transgender persons, successive governments in KP have failed to take measures to ensure their security. It is likely that this is all related to a lack of political will to help them.Despite the critical circumstances the trans community faces in KP, when the members of the TAA went to meet the province’s Chief Minister (CM), his assistant told them, “It isn’t appropriate for the CM to meet you people”. Because they are treated as pariahs and face threats of violence, it becomes difficult for transgender people to receive a proper education. Facing rejection at both home and school, they often run away, finding solace only in their own community. With no proper education and facing severe hatred from the people around them, they are left with no other choice butto turn to sex work or dancing – the only career options they have. It is the responsibility of society as well as the government to treat them with respect and to provide them with equality of opportunity so they have a shot at living a comfortable life. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is now forming its second consecutive government in KP. I strongly hope that the PTI government pays due attention to the transgender community’s numerous problems and helps make KP a more trans-friendly province. The writer is a student of Pakistan Studies at Government College, Mansehra. He Tweets @abidhashnagar and can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, August 19th 2018.