What is the protest about?

The trans community in Pakistan has often been ridiculed for their identity and repressed, sometimes even brutally exploited or killed for carrying out their professional commitments such as acting and dancing at weddings. While the community has long been suffering at the hands of the social system, its members have fought a long battle to be recognized and treated as legitimate citizens. In what can be called the most significant event in the country this year, the transgender community came together to hold a protest in support of their rights this past weekend in the city of Karachi.

Recently, in a historic event, the transgender community held its first large-scale rights protest in Pakistan. Known as the Khwaja Sira community, they came together and took center stage to celebrate themselves and demand their rightful place in the country that has stigmatized and excluded them for decades.

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Sindh Moorat March Pakistan

November 20 was not just another day in Pakistan. It marked the beginning of a movement that had been in the making for a long time. Members of the country’s Khwaja Sira, an indigenous community of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people, organized a march in Pakistan where they expressed the need to be respected, seen, heard and recognized in all their selves.

The community gathered in the city of Karachi, celebrated while singing and dancing and gave speeches on how they should protect themselves against hate and discrimination. Demanding to be treated equally, the community speakers highlighted how people need to overcome the serious misconception that being trans is a Western idea that prevails in smaller countries and that the trans community has always existed in the country but never recognized and always suppressed

Dating back to the Mughal era, spanning from the 16th to 19th centuries, the community has always been highly regarded where they were respected and also held positions of power in the administration. However, over the decades, social normality began to exclude the community and look down on them as mere individuals who could never earn an equal place in society. The Khwaja Sira aims to address the deep-seated issues behind the notion and more.

More than 50 trans women have been murdered for hate crimes

Protesters participated in thousands of numbers in the March which was organized by the Alliance (GIA). This was a long time coming because the community has been on the receiving end of hate crimes, according to reports. One of the protesters, 25-year-old Arma Khan, told the media that it was time for the people of the country to face the facts about the brutal killings that have occurred at the height of hate. The community has faced increasing violence in recent years and, as reported, more than 90 trans women have been murdered since 2015. The numbers are scary and come out more than what news agencies usually cover.

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“It is time that they treat us equally, with respect. However, I also believe that this must start with our families. Families need to start supporting their children, regardless of the gender they identify with.” said Khan during the protest.

One of the protest organizers, Hina Baloch, made a powerful closing statement saying: “For decades, we have been denied our basic rights. And now, whatever rights we have are also being taken away because of the hatred against us. To top it off, a media trial has been going on in Pakistan against us, resulting in more violence. This has to stop now.”