Being transgender in any part of the world is not easy, let alone Pakistan. Your identity as a person is stripped from you when you absolve yourself to Muslim society of your status. You will be buried without proper Muslim burial rites, shunned away and also denied legal access basic services .
It was a deadly affair for Alisha who was just 23 years old when she was shot five times in May 2016, allegedly by a boyfriend who has since been arrested. She died of her wounds three days later.
Her friends say she was neglected by doctors and medical professionals who taunted her, rather than treated her, and that three hours passed before Alisha went into surgery after arriving at the hospital. As she lay bleeding, the hospital’s health workers crowded around her, making jokes and ridiculing her, said her friend Paro, herself transgender.
“I shouted: ‘She is not dancing. She is dying. For God and the Prophet’s sake leave her alone, let her breathe,” Paro recalled, her voice rising as she remembered pushing the crowd away.
And in this holy month of Ramadaan, a fatwa has been passed to acknowledge transgender individuals and grant them rights to marriage and paves the way for some relief from societal mockery that Pakistan’s transgender community experience.
At least 50 clerics affiliated with a little known Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat have issued a fatwa (religious decree) that marriage with a transgender person is lawful. The fatwa, released on Sunday, said a transgender person having “visible signs of being a male” may marry a woman or a transgender with “visible signs of being a female” and vice versa.
But, the fatwa added, a transgender person carrying “visible signs of both genders” may not marry anyone. It declared that robbing transgender people of their share in inheritance was unlawful and that parents who deprive their transgender sons/daughters of inheritance were “inviting the wrath of God”.
The clerics called upon the government to take action against such parents. The decree also dwelt upon societal attitudes towards transgenders. It went to the extent of terming ‘haraam’ any act intended to “humiliate, insult or tease” them.
The fatwa ended with a word on last rites, declaring that all funeral rituals for a transgender person will be the same as for any other Muslim man or woman. The clerics who issued the fatwa included Imran Hanfi, Pir Karamat Ali, Abu Bakr Awan, Masoodur Rehman, Tahir Tabassum Qadri, Khalil Yousafi, Gul Ateequi, Gulzar Naeemi, Intikhab Noori, Abdul Sattar Saeedi and Khizarul Islam.