The Fitful Progress of the Movement for Pakistani Trans Lives
Source: CGTN YouTube
By way of Pakistan’s landmark 2017 census, some 10,000 transgender Pakistanis have become officially visible in the eyes of the government, though community organizers say the number is likely much larger. Illiteracy, poverty, disenfranchisement, trafficking, threats to sexual health, and the dangers of unregulated sex work plague Pakistan’s trans women (khawaja siras, a reclaimed term in the trans community), but the recent securing of legal protections have given hope to a community where precarity reigns.
While communities of trans women have provided kinship and security where mainstream society has offered a mix of scorn and fetish, hierarchical systems within the communities have layered additional vulnerabilities upon threats already faced. The women have organized and built security-focused civil groups, and the last decade has seen a number of victories including census recognition, a third-gender option on ID cards, limited economic investments, and technological and political tools for accountability in law enforcement. Some hardline conservatives have become unlikely allies as trans women are seen among some Islamic sects as holy, though they have stopped short of supporting partnership rights. Recent international media coverage has highlighted recent gains as well as ongoing insecurity for Pakistan’s increasingly visible trans community.
“Pakistan’s Transgender Women, Long Marginalized, Mobilize For Rights” (NPR | January 2018)
“Tabooed transgender community still facing discrimination but to be protected in Pakistan” (Xinhua | January 2018)
“New App TransMuhafiz Puts Pakistani Transphobic Offenders in the Spotlight” (Planet Transgender | January 2018)
Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret (Clover Films, via Real Stories/YouTube | December 2016)
Somebody (TriumF Media, via YouTube | September 2017)