In recent years, Pakistan has seen a surge towards giving marginalised communities, like transgenders, their due rights. There has been significant work done to give this community their rights such as recognising them as a separate category – ‘X’ (for third gender) in the national census; giving them a national identity card and passport; giving them the right to inherit property and assets; as well as the right to vote.
This month, there will be an addition to these efforts towards raising the status of the transgender community in the country with the launch of the first school for transgenders in Lahore.
The school, which will be called The Gender Guardian, has been initiated by a Non-government Organisation (NGO) called the Exploring Future Foundation (EFF). The launch ceremony of the school will be held at Alhamra Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 15th April, 2018.
The school will offer formal and non-formal education covering 12 grade levels. Apart from basic academic subjects, the students will be offered vocational courses in fashion design, computer sciences, hair and styling courses, graphic design and more. The objective is to provide these students with skills to help them build a stable future for themselves. According to sources, around 40 aspiring students have registered themselves for admission into the school. And out of the 15 member faculty, three are from the transgender community itself which will likely make them relate better to the students and perhaps, even act as a buffer or representative before other faculty members. They will be able to understand the students’ psyche, problems and challenges better and hence, will help support and steer the school as required. After the opening of the first branch in Lahore, two more branches are planned for Karachi and Islamabad.
Education is a right that should be given to all and the launch of a school for this community is a huge step in the process of inclusion and acceptance towards them. Of course, this should culminate in transgenders (and all marginalised communities) studying and working side-by-side with all other individuals eventually.
Acceptance and support is largely dependent on the reaction of the civil society to this endeavour. There is no doubt that establishing and running this project in the long-term is a daunting task but the fact that this step has been taken after years of struggle and hardship is a ray of hope for Pakistan, its society and the transgender community.
We wish The Gender Guardian and the transgender community all the best and pray for better days ahead!