Islamabad: A 23-year-old transgender is about to make history in Pakistan by becoming a doctor.
Sarah Gill, who is enrolled at Jinnah Medical and Dental College in Karachi, told a local daily, "Our community enjoyed tremendous respect in Islam as well as in the history of Muslim rulers...”
"It was only after 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."
She regretted that the law put in place by British rulers is still part of Pakistan`s Constitution.
"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," Sarah said.
She emphasised that despite the social injustice meted out to members of her community, they are hardly ever involved in any criminal activity.
Sarah, who had to enrol in the college as a male student, said her batch-mates were aware about her identity though it was never formally declared. Her parents insisted that she pose as a male.
"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," she said.
"The original Urdu word for a transgender is `murat`, that is a combination of `m` from the Urdu word `mard` and `urat` from `aurat`. We call each other by this name," she said.
However, as she comes to the end of her medical course, Sarah, who was in the federal capital to meet UN officials, decided to disclose her identity.
"My family warned me that if declare myself as a transgender, they will stop paying for my studies. Now I will have to arrange for my next year`s fee on my own," she said.
Sarah rued the fact that despite a Supreme Court order, special identity cards have not been issued to her community.
"A majority of my community is illiterate and (they) do not know their rights. It is a shocker for government officials when they have to deal with an educated transgender," she said.
Sarah also admitted to attempting suicide a couple of times. "A normal person can never understand our state of mind. It is like a soul trapped in a wrong body," she said.
Sarah also runs the NGO Gender Interactive Alliance. "I am not ashamed of my sexuality and the best inspiration is that my community needs me," she said.