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Allama Iqbal Open University’s Gift of Free Education to The Transgender Communities in Pakistan

We have been neglecting the rights of our minority groups for far too long. Whether it’s the religious minorities or gender minorities, we have mistreated them all equally. Transgender people are one of the minority group that we, as a society, are the culprit of.  When it comes to the rights of these people, most look the other way and turn a blind eye. It is due to such mindset that until very recently, transgender people were not even allowed to speak for their rights. Or if they did, nobody heard them. But the situation is beginning to change now.

It Starts In Their Own Families

It is not just the society that shuns these people. The rejection itself begins in the homes and families that they are born into. Upon finding out that their child is different from the rest, most parents decide they no longer want to bear the burden of this kid that they have brought into the world. They give this kid into isolated transgender communities where these people who have no biological connection to these kids but the fact that they are connected by the same fate, look after these kids as their own.

transgenders in pakistan aiou

Photo via VOA

A Bond Stronger Than Blood

As far as statistics go, of all the kids born in Pakistan, about 2 percent are born as transgenders. These kids are given up into transgender communities by families who cut all ties with them. It is saddening to think that a mother and father can give up their child just like that. The reality of our world is that people are cruel, where differences, whether they are physical or mental, religious or ethnic, are not tolerated or accepted by the masses. This is why for so long, the transgender community has lived in Pakistan without any basic human rights.

Who Decides What is “Normal”?

After being rejected by their own family, these kids grow up into a world where they are rejected by everyone. They aren’t allowed to attend schools and they aren’t given any jobs. It is simply a downward spiral. Are transgender individuals any less capable of holding down a normal job than you are? Or I am? Then why is it that the world simply just assumed all these years that the only appropriate job that a member of the transgender community could have is either as a singer or as a dancer? For these people, it has been a silent war every single day. It is the society that refuses to give these people their rights is not normal.

AIOU And Free Education For The Transgender Community

Until now, it was next to impossible for these people to get an education. But it is because of Allama Iqbal Open University that the people belonging to the transgender community in Pakistan will get a chance at educating themselves. Whether it is distance learning or regular classes, matriculation or a Ph.D., transgenders will now be able to avail free education in any field they like.

Denying someone education is denying them their basic human right. It is denying them the ability to become a working part of this society. This noble decision taken on the part of AIOU is going to give the transgender community a chance that they never had before. They will be able to avail education from their own homes where they feel safe and sheltered from the bigoted individuals in our world unwilling to accept change.

The world is changing ever so slowly but it is changing nonetheless. The ones who put the needs of others before themselves really make a difference in this world. You don’t get to see many bright days in a country like Pakistan, specially if you belong to a minority group. But a day when transgenders get the right to achieve higher education from their homes is surely the brightest day we have seen to date.

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