First transgender to become a doctor
Islamabad, July 09: If strength, determination and vision are the basic traits of a true leader then Sarah Gill certainly qualifies, as one for she not only has the strength and determination to stand up for the rights of her community, but also has the vision to lobby for centuries’ old respect for transgender in society.
A resident of Karachi, Sarah, 23, is going to be the first transgender to become a medical doctor in Pakistan’s history. This interview was taken on her recent visit to Islamabad aimed at meeting United Nations officials.
“Our community enjoyed tremendous respect in Islam as well as in the history of Muslim rulers,” said Sarah. “It was only after when the British came to this continent that we were declared criminals by law and since then, our community is constantly facing inhuman discrimination and have become a symbol of shame,” said Sarah, a soft spoken person with a strong opinion. She regretted that the law made by British was still part of Pakistan’s constitution.
Talking about the plight of her community, she said that usually a declared transgender is left with no option, but to indulge in immoral activities for survival. “Due to discrimination and harassment, literacy rate among my community is very low and those who have some educational background fail to find a job.” Despite all this social injustice, she said that transgender are never found involved in any criminal activity.
“The original Urdu word for a transgender is ‘Murat’ that is a combination of ‘M’ from Urdu word ‘Mard’ and ‘urat’ from ‘aurat’. We call each other by this name,” she said.
Sarah is currently studying medicine and is in fourth year at Jinnah Medical and Dental College, Karachi. “My family warned me that if declare myself as transgender, they will stop paying for my studies. Now I will have to arrange for my next year’s fee on my own,” said Sarah, who still attends college as a male student.
“I do not know when I will have my own identity as directed by the Supreme Court,” she said adding that the process of registration is extremely slow and is still incomplete even in big cities. “Almost a year has passed since the Supreme Court ordered Nadra to issue special Identity Cards for transgenders, but the authority is still busy in paper work and nothing practical has been done yet. “Majority of transgender community is illiterate and do not know their rights. It is a shocker for government officials when they have to deal with an educated transgender.”
She said that her class fellows have clear idea that she was a transgender, but she has not officially declared that before her teachers. “I am sure that I will be kicked out of college if I do that. Due to same discrimination and social pressure, majority of transgender tend to hide their identity and live like men throughout their lives,” she pointed out.
Sharing her experiences, Sarah said that from her childhood, she was always attracted towards girly things. She said that to be declared as a transgender, a certificate is needed from a psychologist. “I decided to go for this test two years back despite severe criticism from my family. “My family tried their best to convince the doctor not to declare me as transgender,” she said.
“They insisted that I pose as a boy throughout my life despite knowing that I am not. They said that I am selfish and not considering the respect that the family would lose after I declare myself as transgender. Every transgender has to face the same situation,” said Sarah who has also made several suicide attempts to escape social rejection. “A normal person can never understand our state of mind. It is like a soul trapped in a wrong body,” she added.
For Sarah, who is also running an NGO by the name of Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), there is nothing that can stop her now from working openly for the welfare of her community. “I am not ashamed of my sexuality and the best inspiration is that my community needs me,” she said.
She requested all public and private sector organisations to provide employment to transgender. “If a man can be popular pretending to be a woman on a TV show then why a real transgender cannot make a career in media,” she asked. She also appealed to relevant authorities to speed up the process of registration and start issuing identity cards so that the two per cent quota for transgender can be implemented in the public sector. The news