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The Education Divide: Separate Schools versus Inclusive Systems for Transgender Individuals

The education of transgender or trans individuals in Pakistan has historically been disregarded and faced many obstacles as a result of systemic impediments, lack of awareness, and societal discrimination. Transgender people frequently face major obstacles when trying to get an education and have few options for pursuing higher education or career training. Within educational institutions, they experience discrimination, bullying, and social stigma, which often results in exclusion, harassment, and high dropout rates. Furthermore, inclusive policies and standards that specifically address the interests and concerns of transgender students are usually absent from educational institutions. Their lack of presence exacerbates their marginalisation and makes it difficult for them to get an education.


In Pakistan, a number of advocacy groups, human rights organisations, and activists are striving to create inclusive learning settings and increase public awareness of the rights of transgender people. In an effort to promote equality, the Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that transgender children would not be subjected to harassment, discrimination, or other forms of mistreatment in schools. A transgender public school opened in Lodhran at the beginning of 2019, while a trans-education programme was also started in Multan. There, transgender people are making up for missed education by enrolling in nighttime sessions offered by the Accelerated Learning Programme. Furthermore, the Punjab School Education Department (SED) opened Lahore's first transgender school in December 2022 with the goal of educating and training trans people in various skills. In addition, the department has opened three transgender schools in Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan in the past year. These educational establishments offered free education ranging from elementary to advanced secondary levels, in addition to teaching sewing, cooking, and cosmetic makeup.


Although it's a great initiative, it is still discriminatory. I think that introducing a parallel school system is not the answer to cater the harassment they face and thus, transgender students should be enrolled in ordinary schools just like other children. Furthermore, I think that giving them education that is mostly focused on skills like cooking, sewing, etc. is counterproductive to the goal because they should also have the opportunity to pursue jobs in business studies and stem fields if they want to. All children, including those with special needs, have the right to an education, and the government should make sure that they have access to all the resources needed for learning.


This is just my opinion, but do you guys think that establishing separate schools for transgender individuals would be more effective in addressing educational challenges they face, or should the focus be on creating a more inclusive and egalitarian education system without excluding marginalised groups?


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While acknowledging the effort behind establishing separate schools for transgender individuals, it's essential to underscore the potential drawbacks of such a move. True inclusivity isn't achieved through segregation. Instead, it thrives within a diverse educational environment where all students, irrespective of gender identity, learn, grow, and form opinions collectively.Creating separate schools risks perpetuating discrimination and hinder the integration of diverse perspectives within the mainstream educational system. Inclusive education, embedded within existing schools, paves the way for mutual understanding and tolerance among different communities.

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
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You are right. In regions where separate schools exist for transgender students, it could perpetuate the idea that they are different or should be kept apart, rather than promoting an environment where diversity is celebrated and respected within the broader educational community. Emphasizing inclusive practices within existing schools allows for shared experiences and a more comprehensive understanding of diverse identities, fostering a culture of acceptance and unity among all students. For instance, in a scenario where transgender students attend separate schools, it could reinforce the misconception that their identity necessitates isolation from mainstream society and if not followed, they can be subject to hate crimes, objectification, and systematic biases.



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While I understand that in essence it is discriminatory, my take on this is that a separate school is more of a safe space for transgender students than an ordinary one. Negative attitudes towards transgender individuals are so deeply rooted in our society that students are likely to engage in bullying and harassment if they are told to share a classroom with any trans person. What good learning can take place in a hostile school environment? It will only hinder their academic performance and confidence when they will be constantly made to feel inferior in a system that is suppose to be equal. As unfortunate as it is, I do feel a separate school is better, safer option. However, I…


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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
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I do agree that it's crucial to recognize the challenges and work towards creating an environment in mainstream schools where diversity is respected and discrimination is eliminated. While the idea of a separate school for transgender students might seem like a safer option initially due to concerns about bullying, it ultimately reinforces segregation and societal prejudices. Although, challenges exist, the long-term solution is to encourage acceptance and understanding among peers so they can co exist and can get education under the same roof without discrimination.


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Even though, a separate school for the transgender individuals is a step towards getting them an education, it is still discriminatory in the way that they are still not integrated with the other students. Everyone should have equal opportunities to education. Inclusivity is important both in the classrooms and in the curriculum. I think studying in the same schools would allow people belonging to different communities to understand each other and then form their own thoughts and opinions that are not just based on certain ideologies that they have been fed. We have the tendency to marginalise a group of people or a certain community based on what we know of them. I think schools are the perfect place to…

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
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I agree with you that educational institutions have the immense potential to counteract these biases by promoting inclusion and learning. I believe that by embracing diversity within school environments, students have the opportunity to interact with peers from various backgrounds, fostering empathy, respect, and a deeper understanding of different cultures, perspectives, and identities. This exposure not only broadens their worldview but also cultivates a sense of acceptance and appreciation. I do agree that schools play a pivotal role in breaking down societal barriers and thus, a joint school for both may be the best option.


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Creating separate schools for transgender individuals is a positive step, but I believe an inclusive education system is more effective. Everyone deserves equal access to education without facing discrimination. Mainstream schools should embrace diversity, offer varied career paths, and provide a supportive environment. It's about ensuring equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender identity. However, in a country like Pakistan where women still struggle for equal opportunities, the idea of trans getting equal opportunities is unfathomable. I have volunteered for 'the gender guardian' back in 2020. The school didn't provide proper educating rather focused on vocational education. There were classes for sewing, cooking, etc. The purpose was to provide khawaja sira community with skills that could benefit them in the future.…

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Nov 28, 2023
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I agree with your alternative interpretation that states that it is absurd to assume that transgender people will have equal rights in a nation where women do not. My cousin once told me about a transgender student who was accepted into his university but had to leave after only one month because of constant bullying and ridicule. That kind of discrimination and hostility still exists in educational settings and is extremely depressing and completely unacceptable. In addition, it is upsetting to witness that someone who has worked tirelessly for many years has finally been accepted into his dream university, only to be treated in this manner. This particular incident highlights a deficiency in cultivating an atmosphere that prioritizes diversity, dignity,…


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I do agree that separate schools aren't the best answer to reduce the marginalization of trans individuals and can potentially reinforce segregation.


It's similar to creating separate schools for the black population in a racist country. But that doesn't reduce racism. Instead, it's a very counterproductive approach. The black, white, or brown kids learn tolerance and coexistence together in the same schools.


Similarly, the government should work on sustainable and better-planned policies focusing on social regulations within ordinary schools. That reduce the risk of harassment and allow a more normal school experience for the trans-students.


Separate school with a cooking and sewing curriculum is a surface-level quick fix, working like a bubble. The social stigma of being trans may not…


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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Nov 28, 2023
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You're right, and I believe it's important to understand that the systemic problems and underlying reasons of bias and marginalization are not addressed by this approach. Some people may argue that because transgender persons are not given opportunities in mainstream fields, they are forced into occupations like sewing and cooking. Again, that may be the case, but there's a chance that this strategy will unintentionally reinforce stereotypes about particular groups and restrict their chances of assimilating and being accepted by society at large. Furthermore, mainstream curricula ought to incorporate instruction on diversity, inclusivity, and respect for all people, regardless of their gender. Rather, to prevent discrimination against marginalized groups, policies and practises that promote equality and fair treatment should also…


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