The SSLA Department Hosted a Session on Transgender Awareness and Media's Role
October 11: The Social Sciences and Liberal Arts Department,
IBA hosted an insightful session on transgender awareness and
media’s role, organised by Dr. Sheba Saeed in collaboration with
Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) for media students. The aim of
this event was to make people conscious of who transgenders are,
their communities, the discriminations they face and how media
students can use their skills to highlight and report such
Dr. Sheba Saeed (Assistant professor, IBA) moderated the event and introduced Mr. Waseem Soomro, Assistant Project Manager, GIA. He started the discussion with the story of Paro, who was a transgender and faced violence from the society. He explained the Guru Chela system, where transgenders beg for money and present it to their gurus, who also act as their parents. These gurus can give anything in return to them and spend a lot on birthdays and funerals.
There are currently around 4000 transgenders in Karachi who are subject to unfairness and brutality. Mr. Waseem narrated that even though some companies were willing to hire transgenders for work in Rs. 15,000 - 20,000 salaries, most of them refused to work as this amount would not even cover their rent since transgenders are charged twice more.
Ms. Bindya Rana is a transgender activist who founded GIA. It is due to her efforts that transgenders are now officially recognized in Pakistan and have acquired their rights. The main aim of GIA is to cease the begging done by transgenders and promote skill development in them. This organisation has been successful in educating many transgender professionals. Ms. Kamisid (first transgender model) and Ms. Nisha (a lawyer) are some notable examples. Recently K-Electric offered 25 jobs for transgenders with their own choice of salary package. Also, Port Grand in Karachi is opening a restaurant named Angel Squad that will only employ transgenders. Such initiatives prove the success of GIA and the impact it’s creating for a better and equitable society.
While talking about the challenges in the field to media students, Mr. Soomro also said that when we go to talk to transgenders as a media reporter, most of them blame us that we aren’t doing anything for them. He responds by telling them that as media personalities, it is their job to deliver and communicate the issues to the concerned authorities, who then ultimately have the responsibility to solve them. He also said that sometimes in violent incidents against the transgenders, it is quite challenging and dangerous for the reporters to cover it.
In conclusion, he said media can have a significant impact in helping such individuals by raising a voice and increasing awareness. He also mentioned that their organisation works on many different social projects including domestic violence against women. The students were surprised to know the deep realities of our society and asked pertinent questions to the speaker.