December 24th, 2020
By Ahmad Saeed
For 20 years, Rani Khan, a transgender based in Islamabad begged and attend dance parties to make ends meet, until one fine day in 2018, she stopped.
When asked why Rani Khan had such a drastic lifestyle change, she responded that a friend of hers advised her to do so in her dreams.
“My transgender friend was also a dancer like me. One day she had a car accident and died. A few days later she came to me in my dream and told me to stop dancing and abandon this lifestyle”, Rani tells voicepk.net.
Rani says that after her dream she woke up in the middle of the night and cried till dawn. Then in the morning, she resolved that she would never dance or sing from now on.
She now runs a seminary exclusively for transgenders in the suburbs of the federal capital to ‘reform’ members of her community.
Rani says that though there are different organizations working for transgender rights, there was no madrassa for their religious education. Therefore she decided to open a religious seminary to guide transgenders to the right path.
“I contacted a lot of people to help me but no one helped, so I sold my a plot of my land and built a madrassa”, Rani added
Rani says she would approach other transgenders begging and dancing on the streets and intersections of Islamabad to get a religious education at her madrassa, but she did not have much success.
But slowly and steadily she developed a following and now forty transgenders are studying at Rani’s madrassa. Most of Rani’s students are between the ages of 12 and 16, and the rest are too old to even beg.
“They (transgenders) question me on how they can survive monetarily if they don’t beg or do sex work. That is why I provide food, shelter, and education at my madrassa,” Rani explains.
Some of Rani’s students suffer from HIV and hepatitis but do not have the money to treat themselves. Rani wishes to give formal education to the students studying at her madrassa, but that remains a dream. She laments that a lack of education and general apathy of society is the biggest challenge in improving the lives of transgenders.
“In our society, transgenders are kicked out of their own homes and they become part of a guru culture where they are only taught to do make-up or dance. When they grow up they have no option but to live a life of humiliation ( dance and beg) to make money.”
Rani says that transgenders are a vulnerable disenfranchised group, who have been kept illiterate, as they were shunned away by society. She hopes that the government will help the community by providing them healthcare, housing, and ration free of cost.