"We are not children of a lesser God"

A series of dialogues between students and transwomen in partnership with the Planet Romeo Foundation.

FDI is organizing a series of dialogues in three high schools and three universities of Islamabad city. These six dialogues will give an orientation about the transgender community, issues of gender and sexual diverse groups, perceptions and myths about these groups; the discrimination, exclusion and abuse these groups face, and way forward to improve the situation. This series of dialogue is supported by Planet Romeo Foundation.

Gallery one: Dialogue at School for Business Management

The transgender community faces multiple issues of discrimination, social stigma and exclusion resulting in their deprived socio-economic status. They have little economic opportunities in work that is widely accepted by the society. They are ostracized from mainstream society and live within their own community in Khawja Serah Deera lifestyle. Interaction with the rest of society is limited to dancing in birthday parties and wedding ceremonies, beggary or sex work to earn their livelihood. The challenges for survival in a strict conservative atmosphere have left them with limited options to establish a respectable status in society.

Gallery two: Dialogue at Quaid-E-Azam University

The majority of cisgender people (non-transgender people) have no knowledge or know very little about the issues of gender and sexual diversity. This lack of knowledge causes a gap between the transgender community and the cisgender community/straight population.

We believe the youth have a critical role to play in the improvement of social cohesion and inclusiveness for the identified marginalized groups. The youth, especially those attending high schools and universities, can only offer some help if they themselves have some orientation about the issues and human rights violations facing the transgender community.

Image above: Lecture Iqra University Islamabad Campus Left to right: Bubbli, Maya Zaman, Noman Manzoor, Dr.Nadeemm Umar Tarar Director National College of Arts Rawalpindi, Nadeem Sadiq, and Salman Kasi

Considering the circumstances, we propose to take the initiative to provide an opportunity to students of high schools and universities to have an open dialogue with transgender community members.

To document the impact these discussions have on the students, we ask them to write their knowledge about Pakistan's transgender community before and after the dialogue. Below are some of their responses.