ISLAMABAD: Though the transgender people have succeeded in getting some rights due to Supreme Court’s (SC) intervention, they are still facing numerous issues especially when they visit hospitals for treatment in the absence of no separate wards and counters for them in the hospitals.
Pakistan Shemale Foundation President Almas Boby told Pakistan Today that there are no separate wards for the people of their community in the hospitals anywhere in the country hence a separate wards or at least a room in every hospital should be specified for them in order to avoid any problems.
However, she said that the people and doctors are quite cooperative and they never faced any discriminatory attitude in the hospitals except the unfortunate incident that occurred in Peshawar when a transgender person was refused admission in the hospital. She also said that due to their rising population, there is a need to set up special wards and counters for the transgender community to facilitate them.
Death of 23-year-old transgender activist Ayesha in a Peshawar hospital last year is a shocking reminder of the perils the community lives in. The activist who was shot seven times and was in immediate need of medical aid was not even attended by a nurse until the staffers decided whether to admit her in the male or female ward. She died amidst this confusion of the staffers.
Boby said that since they are like women and dress like women, they never face any problems from women. She said that doctors never hesitate in treating them and admit them in female wards where female patients have never complained.
Qamar, a lawyer working for transgender community rights, said that they did not have any separate health system in the country due to which they often faced discrimination. He said that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government and the transgender community entered into an agreement after the Ayesha case to set separate wards for transgender people in LRH and Hayatabad Medical Complex but the plan has yet to be materialised.
He said that basically the doctors in the hospitals are not ready to treat transgender people, as the PDMC guidelines are not being followed, adding that the doctors have no training in this regard.
He said that some doctors do not even know what transgender or intra-sex is because there is no transgender healthcare awareness program.
Qamar said that the transgender persons had health transition issues, which are not addressed in any hospitals in the country due to which they have to visit private clinics which often causes several other health complications.
Polyclinic Hospital Spokesperson Dr Sharif Astori admitted that it is a fact that there is no separate healthcare system for the transgender community.
He said that since they are mostly dressed like female and from appearance they look like females, they are being referred to the female doctors to take care of them.
“If the patient identifies as a woman, they will be placed in a room with a woman. If they identify as a man, they will be placed in a room with a man,” he added.
He stressed the need to devise a special mechanism for the treatment of the members of the transgender community because it is a very serious issue and must be given serious consideration.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PIMS Spokesperson Dr Wasim Khwaja said that they treat the transgender people according to the way they behave and they are given a separate room accordingly.
He said that they are being treated according to their diseases and any doctor available on the spot either male or female treats them as patients are not being treated gender-wise.
A senior official said that though the SC gave special importance to the community and special ID cards have been issued to them, unfortunately neither the Ministry of Health nor the Ministry of CADD have ever issued any advisory or SOP or any formula regarding the healthcare facilities for the transgender community.
“If we look at our health system, its policies and the SOPs in place, there is no mention of the term ‘transgender’. This shows that they are not even considered in the protocol,” he said.
As per the provisional summary of the results of the 6th Population and Housing Census released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the country’s transgender population stands at 10,418 — 0.005 per cent of the total population of over 207 million.
The transgender community, however, has rejected the count of the transgender population and claimed to have more than one million transgender persons across Pakistan, with around 10,000 transgender people only in the twin cities and surrounding areas.
Boby hoped that things would change for good due to public awareness and the SC’s special interest in their affairs.