‘Hum Bhi Insaan Hain’, a student-run NGO, conducted a session with trans activist, model and spokesperson Kami Sid on the 25th of October. The session was organized in collaboration with the Social Sciences Club and the Public Speaking Society, and was conducted in a conversational manner by Kami and NGO Founder Syeda Dua Fatima, who is currently enrolled in the BS Accounting and Finance department at IBA.
Kami covered topics ranging from schoolyard bullying, transphobia and dysphoria, resilience and her work as an activist and model. Her confident laughter melted through the hesitant crowd with utter ease as she went into the details of her advocacy work at the Sindh government level and how students – for whom she says she will always have time – can help stem the ever-present haunt of peer prejudice and intolerance experienced by trans individuals.
An audience member suggested that we attempt to discuss such issues with the adults who shape our formative opinions i.e. parents, teachers, religious clergy, etc. Kami explained, with a dry yet sympathetic chuckle, that to expect immediate change in a discriminatory belief which has been instilled for many years is too optimistic an ideal for her to hold at this point. We need to work a lot harder and look a lot deeper within these prejudices to tackle them – and this requires a lot more time than most people are willing to invest.
Attendees were very curious – as most of us admittedly are – about what the current government is doing to further the cause of recognizing and uplifting the Khwaja Sira Community. Kami’s answer was simple: we went to the Supreme Court and asked for our basic rights as human beings, to be able to live as citizens protected and recognized by the law and the state – and we were sent home with an X on our National Identity Cards. There is a lot more erasure than what meets the eye when it comes to the trans community because if you acknowledge that a community is there you are answerable as to why their maltreatment persists.
Kami is currently lobbying with private schools to hire more trans individuals and integrate them into the workforce as, in Kami’s words, “We’re a lot more educated now than people would like to believe. It’s just that people really don’t want to give us a chance.” Which left us with the question: If we found out our sibling/relative/friend/neighbor etc were being taught by a member from the trans community, what would our reaction be? And why would we feel/react that way?
There will always be those who do not fit into a person’s typical box of how they ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be – and if we don’t start standing up against the prejudice such people face in our own campuses, the wider world is a whole other ball game.