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Pakistan’s Tragedy: Trans Woman Dies of Bullet Injuries While Hospital Tries to Decide Her Gender

Premchand's famous short story named Sadgati, or Deliverance in English, talks about how a man from an 'untouchable' caste, named Dukhi, dies outside a Brahmin's house after he is overworked. The Brahmin is not willing to touch his body to move it, so throws a rope around it and drags it into a field, where it is pecked at by crows.

There was definitely a time when something like this happened quite often. People of the so-called 'untouchable' castes would die because no one was willing to treat them, as that required touching them. In countries where race was the primary societal divide, people of the oppressed race, such as African-Americans in the USA, would not be treated at hospitals for white people.

Now, such discrimination against other marginalised groups is also coming to light, such as people of the LGBTQ community. The discrimination against the community resulted in tragedy today, when a Pakistani transgender activist named Alesha died in Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital. 

On Sunday, Alesha had been shot seven times by a criminal gang that is known to extort money from transgender people, among other things. One would think that when she was admitted into one of the biggest hospitals of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the staff there would show a modicum of humanity, and treat her like a human being. But it was not to be, because they seemed more concerned about whether to put her in the male ward or the female ward.

That isn't even the worst of it. When Alesha was in critical condition, a doctor reportedly asked her how much she charged for a dance, and certain hospital staff members asked for her number. Some men asked her whether her breasts were real or fake. She was allegedly turned away from the female ward, and after hours of running around the hospital, the only place she got in the male ward was near the bathroom. Reports say that it was only when the hospital's medical director intervened that she got a place in the VIP wing.

Because of the alleged delay in getting intensive treatment, Alesha died earlier today. Events like this sometimes have a way of galvanising the sensitive populace into acting up against such prejudices. But more often than not, it takes more than one of these for things to actually change, and therein lies the human cost of freedom and equality. Alesha was shot for no reason other than the fact that she was a transperson in a country where people like her are constantly violated in one way or another. She died because she was a transperson, and the callous hospital staff was more obsessed with her gender than saving her life.

How many more Aleshas will die until a human being is seen as a human being, and nothing else?

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