ISLAMABAD  - Calling for respect and dignity to the much ignored segment of the society, participants of a seminar on Monday asked the government to recognise the transgender and eunuchs as a 'third' gender of Pakistan and ensure equal rights of education and work opportunities like any other citizen of the country.

A seminar on 'Acceptance & Opportunities for Transgender in Pakistan' was held at the premises of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. People from different walks of life participated in the seminar.

Almas Bobby, President of Transgender Foundation Pakistan, while speaking on the occasion, said that the country's transgender does not want separate schools, hospitals or vocational also said that social acceptance should be done at community level. However, if required, than every housing society should take courage to have transgender's separate schools, institutes or hospitals.

She appreciated the suo moto action of Supreme Court of Pakistan for having transgender's own identity cards. It is a great responsibility on our community to prove ourselves with respect and dignity.

"Inflation and corruption has forced many amongst us to choose the wrong path but we are loving the people," Bobby said, adding, "We need love and respect. People need to change their attitude towards us and the government should be focused to provide us with equal rights to education and work opportunities like any other citizen of the country."

Muhammad Majid Bashir, Senior Advocate briefed about the laws for transgender in Pakistan. In 2011 Supreme Court of Pakistan, primarily custodian of the fundamental rights of human being, has taken up a step for transgender community to allow a third gender category on national identity cards, a legal share of family inheritance, a reserved 2 per cent quota of jobs in all sectors and the right to vote in elections.  However, these rights were already present in constitution, Supreme Court simply identified those rights for transgender.

"Social acceptability is required for the strengthening of these rights, which are extremely lacking," he lamented.

Riffee Khan, Representative from Gender Interactive Alliance, Pakistan, said that the Sindh government has employed three transgender persons as full-time employees and "luckily I am one of them." Furthermore, she explained the endless support of her family, which was helpful for her to achieve double Masters in Pakistan. "Unfortunately, the transgender in Pakistan has to face brutal discrimination in jobs, not to mention the limited access to education and state protection. They are easy victims of violence and have no option but to indulge in immoral activities for survival," she said. However, according to Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan all Pakistanis have equal rights without any classifications, said Khan.

Jannat Ali, Project Manager, Khawaja Sira Society, Lahore, focused on the needs to be catered by government & civil societies for transgender's civilized living. "With such initiatives they are opening up space for themselves as productive citizens in a society, showing their strengths and proving themselves functional rather than relying on help by government or any NGO", she added.

Furthermore, she also introduced about Chand Literacy Society, which is providing free education to transgender and also offering them work opportunities.