by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

Transgender Rights in Pakistan

31 May, 2019

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

Although Asia is acknowledged as an unsafe place for LGBT members, the community is currently rejoicing a small victory in terms of inclusion – the Human Rights Minister, Dr. Shireen Mazari, has recently announced that Ayesha Mogul, who is transgender, was appointed as a resource person.

This step towards a better future has received positive feedback on Twitter, and it isn’t the only one. In 2018, Marvia Malik has become the first Pakistani news anchor, with her first appearance on Kohenoor News. As a journalism graduate, she took the opportunity of going viral to encourage people in the transgender community to achieve their goals, saying that they "are capable of any job, and can do anything they want."

Although such a scenario would have seemed rather far-fetched in the past, these cases of inclusion exist because of the Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act, which was unanimously approved by the Pakistani Senate in 2018. This bill encourages people to legally discover their gender identity without living in fear, while also sending a message to the less tolerant members of society.

One of the senators involved stated that, according to this law, transgender people won’t have to be “checked” by a medical board that would conclude upon their gender, as members of the community have shown disapproval regarding this.

The bill ensures transgender citizens the right to vote, to run for public office, and to record their preferred gender on official documents, such as the driver’s license, the passport or the identity card. They also have the possibility of changing their gender in the National Database and Registration Authority records. Separate rooms will be created in jails for transgender people to be detained, while people who force them to beg will have to serve six months in prison and pay a fine.

It is forbidden for the transgender community members to be discriminated both in and outside their homes, which means that they will have equal rights in terms of employment, healthcare, and any other such aspect. Safe houses also have to be created for the ones who are at the risk of violence, with medical care and proper psychological counseling having to be provided, along with educational facilities.

Since we’re talking about human rights, it is appropriate to mention that, in April 2019, the police force in the province of Sindh now allows transgender recruits to enroll. The chief said that transgender people should be offered more opportunities when it comes to jobs, thus encouraging leaders from other fields of work to make a change as well.

Ever since 2015, at least 57 transgender people have been killed in Pakistan – this is the main reason why the trans community took action and pressured the government into adopting a bill that would at least improve their safety. The fact that people’s voice was taken into consideration is a relief, as social movements don’t always have a legal impact, especially when it comes to such topics, as they’re still thought to be “controversial”.