Shanaya’s ordeal is nothing out of the ordinary. There is an unending list of brutal events wherein transgender people have been subjected to physical assault and sexual abuse. As men and women struggle to make their place in our society, earn a decent living, be respected, the struggles of the transgender community are of a totally different nature. They struggle to survive, to breathe, to live.
As Urooj Murtaza mentions, transgender people were also the caretakers in Kaaba. During that time, they had authority and a high status in society. The key to the door of Kaaba is still with them. “Even the Saudis couldn’t eliminate this,” One transgender told Urooj that they have special ritualistic roles at Sufi shrines. The first chaddar placed on Bari Imam’s grave was by a transgender. How can those who were once caretaker of Kaaba be now banned from even entering the Holy Land? Saudi Arabia has banned transgender persons on Tuesday to perform Umrah, religious visits to holy places in Madina and Makkah.
What if you were Riffie Khan, double masters in Economics and Political Science, and the only opportunity you had was to be a receptionist at National Medical Center, paid only Rs. 15,000/- a month and that too only till you were asked to leave because you didn’t fit in? “What if you were a transgender?” , asks Kami. Kami, Board Member & Volunteer at Rights Now Pakistan, Member of Sexual Minority Group, Sindh Human Rights Defender and Asia Pacific Transgender Network, is regarded as regarded as the future Laxmi Narain Tripathi, a veteran transgender rights activist from India. Kami matured from thinking she is mentally challenged to discovering herself and decided to be a voice for many, a voice of assurance, a voice of confidence, a voice that matters.
Amid the much tainted milieu with the recent incident in Sialkot, Waqar J. Khan, an entrepreneur, who has always spread peace with yoga, or his designing or just by being his great self, decided to team up with Kami and was supported all the way by Nighat Misbah of Depilex, and Muhammad Haseeb Siddiqui, photographer, to make a statement. A statement which, perhaps is the need of the hour. A statement of inclusion. A statement of compassion. A statement of belonging.
A fashion shoot was planned with Kami. A concerned Waqar Khan searched for a venue which will be safe and secure, conceptualized exposing the beauty which is often overshadowed by the gender, draping and embellishing the model with nothing but her own belongings. The outcome was nothing less than sheer magic. Kami may well put many super models out of business!
A few more of such initiatives, perhaps at a much larger scale will probably prevent Alia and many others who are tortured, raped, deprived of basic facilities like education and health, from fleeing the country in search of safer grounds.
As Mother Teresa said, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” Thank you Kami, Waqar, Haseeb and Nighat, for being somebody to so many. Thank you for the silver lining. All that is needed for inclusion is a simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality which is absolutely fine.