Life of Katrina

Zarghona Khalil

Transgender are not novel to us, gender variance is older than we think and trans people are part of that legacy. But gender expression is stigmatized in our society, we overlook gender variances of society. Consciously or unconsciously we are being so dramatic towards third gender for eons now.
As saying that something is better than nothing so, for the very first-time transgender counted separately by numerators in Pakistan. Pakistan’s transgender population according to the 2017 population census was 10,418 in which 913 were from KP, though some trans community members and organizations working for trans community rights claimed higher number as per according to them, there are about 35,000 to 50,000 trans in KP.
According to them there are loop holes in the 2017 census as it wasn’t classified in further categories, and since it was the first time, it might be possible that there were many trans people that didn’t want to come out and being identified; as for many trans genders the reaction isn’t as positive when they reveal their gender identity to their families, friends and community. Widespread discrimination and stigma are the causes they face in each sector of life even they have no access to basic needs, social and economic opportunities. They are a marginalized segment of society with less education opportunities and lesser employment percentage. They have to struggle with getting approval and acceptance from people around them. To top it all off, Trans community is facing a rampant sexual assault, gender base violence and gang rapes.
The trans community is assumed to earn money through dancing and begging. There are so many reasons that need to be unleashed, that force them to join a dancing profession. Disowned by family, abandoned by society, they have no choice left but to be a dancer and then go under a prostitution business. But this is not the end, there are many stories of forthright bravery and resilience that is an inspiration for many; and Katrina’s story is one of them.
Being a youngest child in a family, he didn’t know that his identity would be challenged in future not only from society but from his family too and unaware of that a road ahead would be littered with obstacles and strife. Katrina was born in KP as a boy where he has two sisters and two brothers, like any other child he got admitted in a school .From the very beginning, as he was growing up with his other siblings and his classmates; he and everyone around him could clearly observe differences in him and his inclination towards female fellows .He used to wear a makeup, dressed and act like girls as if it was imbibed in his soul. He used to play with dolls rather than tanks and trucks. In a society where gender roles are strictly classified between man and woman, third gender revelation was a taboo to society; a society where women are deprived of their basic rights, accepting transgender as a gender was a challenge.
As he was growing older, his brothers started to scold him for his behavior changes and forced him to play football, cricket and do activities that are meant for men to do. Moreover, his class fellows started taunting him, but deep down he knew he would never be the person anymore that his brothers and society were trying to make him. As time was passing by his womanly instincts and feminine traits were appearing more openly and intensively; his fellows started to take advantage of him and bullied him that he could only study till second year. It was his mother and sisters that accepted his uniqueness but his brothers didn’t accepted him. His mother supported him throughout this hard time. She was the one who take care of him, from admitting him in school to bringing him to madrassa to learn the primary lessons of religion and Quran, it was her who stand by his side strong and firm.
But the path is not always smooth; after his parents death, things started getting worse, due to society pressure, family negligence and hatred towards him, being at home he started to live an isolated life. He became a liability to his family and nobody cares about his existence, he came up to a point that he left his home.
Leaving a home wasn’t an easy decision as he had no shelter and anyone to rely on, with heavy heart he approached Guru that is meant to be a patron in Tran’s community. Guru accepted him, gave shelter and food to live on but on a condition of becoming a slave to guru, Katrina was now bound to do whatever she is told by her guru; otherwise she had to face the consequences of it. She started going to events and dance parties and forced to do immoral activities. In music party’s people used to humiliate her, touch her inappropriately, it was not new for her, but her self-respect and identity shattered each time she hear it. Besides that, after party she used to be forced by men to go with them and spent a night with them. She did not wanted to be in this smeared business but she was bound to do it.
Bearing all this humiliation, oppression and trauma for years, she decided to stand for herself as her inner voice didn’t allow her to be quiet. As saying; Where there is will there is a way, she got the chance to attend an awareness seminar, on the rights of trans genders, where she met human rights activists and some government departments officials, Katrina got to know that she can also live a respectable and honorable life, have fundamental rights and can make choices of her own. She wanted to choose a profession of her choice rather than dancing which was forced by society and her poor conditions. She decided to become a voice of her community’s unheard voices and become a change agent of society that has a ripple effect. She registered her organization named REST organization, where she started to teach sewing skills learning program and beautician course to her community, so that they can earn their bread and butter respectfully.
Till now she has trained 70 to 80 transgenders. Government departments, some human rights organizations and especially SMEDA (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority) helped her out in providing equipment e.g. sewing machines to set up her small-scale industry but she has still lacking a raw material for making cloths. while the support from government and higher officials is vital for this marginalized community but there is still the need of support from government and other welfare organizations in respect to bring their business in the main stream.
Katrina said that, her community had to face hurdles, bullying, challenges as society has nonsufficient knowledge about this gender and don’t know how to treat them, stigmatized and stereotyped by society, no body want to talk about it openly. Furthermore, Society’s lack of awareness and lack of humanity, trans genders are unable to get proper education; the chances of getting high profile or even better jobs are minimum, that’s why they are left behind in every walk of life. In the age where a child need family’s support, attention, affection and love; we have been out casted, shunned and left out by our families; in the barbarous atmosphere and this way we have to entre in a horrendous guru /chela system.
Katrina fights with society to prove herself and became an inspiration for many; that want to choose a profession of their own choice. According to Katrina in dance profession and other immoral activities trans genders have no future, in their old age they live a horrible lives, get addicted to drugs and caught miserable diseases. She said that she want to incline her community towards positive activities as many of us want to get education and respectable jobs. Harassed, threaten, beaten, and killed because of our gender is inhumane. Besides that we are not born just to Dance; we are more than that. We are the creation of God, we are not cursed and we are not a reason of shame to our families and society.
Furthermore, diversity is the main element of nature and any nation which actually makes it beautiful. We talk about inclusivity but ironically we are excluded by a huge segment of society. To grow and develop as a society we have to go side by side no matter what gender we are. Now is the time to stand up for ongoing injustices, hatred, inequality and bigotry. It’s time to move forward, as there is still a long way to go to achieve equality and justice.
Recalling her childhood memories, Katrina said that she ought to be a pilot /an air hostess and travel the world but it could happen only , if society had let her completed her education .Now she wanted to do something for her community and to be remembered as a person that follows the footsteps of Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Katrina and her community do not want a special treatment; they ask for respect, equality and equity from society, to live a dignified life with integrity. They want acceptance from society and families as it’s the family that have to decide whether we can afford to live on the old patterns or will we adopt a positive and healthy change to accept each other . As it is need of the day to rely more on a cerebral skills rather than questioning and shaming each other’s physiology. If a man and female can do work; they can also do better work being a vital member of society.