Living Transgender in Pakistan

Collection with 11 media items created by vincenzo floramo

13 Dec 2014 23:00

Transgender people live in a precarious position in Pakistan. Despite gains made by the trans community in recent years - Pakistan’s Supreme Court allowed them to get national identity cards recognizing them as a third gender - transgender still face a lot of discrimination in society.

In some sectors of life they are tolerated, though in very defined roles. They often perform as a dancers at weddings and other celebrations where man and woman are strictly segregated. However, most transgender people, called “hijras” in Pakistan, live at the margins of society with very low status. The very word “hijra” is sometimes used in derogatory manner. Transgender have few employment opportunities available, so those who cannot get income performing at ceremonies often resort to begging or sex work.

To fight against discrimination and violence, a group of educated transgender activist are working at the Khawaja Sira Society (KSS) under the umbrella of a local Pakistani NGO called Naz Male Health Alliance. This center provide services for the local transgender community which include HIV/AIDS and STD diagnoses and treatment, and condom and lubricant distribution both via outreach as well as through clinics. At KSS the community find a secure and friendly environment where the  transgender community hopes to strengthen its people.

The United Nations and government estimates in 2012 put the number of HIV/AIDS cases around 87,000 in Pakistan alone with an overall prevalence of HIV infection in adults aged 15 to 49 is 0.1%. However, due to the conservative religious culture, political volatility and security matters, activists have to operate with minimal visibility.

As an Islamic Republic, Pakistan punishes same-sex behavior under Pakistan Penal Code Section 377,  an outdated, colonial law punishing same-sex relationships.

Transgender Pakistan Sex Aid Workers Activism Community Lgbt Gender Sexuality

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Transgender of Pakistan 01
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
24 Dec 2014

Transgender organizers of the Khawaja Sira Society (KSS) talk about their activities and transgender human rights related issues at the morning show "Doodh Patti," broadcasted by the Pakistani news channel GEO Tez.

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Transgender of Pakistan 02
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
19 Dec 2014

A government HIV/AIDS prevention campaign poster is pasted to the wall of Dostana Dropping Center, a community organization for men who engage in same-sex practices (MSM). The organization works under the umbrella of NAZ Male Health Alliance.

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Transgender of Pakistan 03
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
19 Dec 2014

During their organized activities for world AIDS day, members of the transgender community attend a candle light vigil for the 145 victims, most of them children, of the terrorist attack on a local school in Peshawar on 16 Dec 2014.

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Transgender of Pakistan 05
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
13 Dec 2014

Sarah Gill, a transgender of 22 years old from Karachi, is the project manager of the Khawaja Sira Society. In two years she will complete her medicine studies.

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Transgender of Pakistan 06
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
11 Dec 2014

At the KSS facilities, the local transgender community takes part in different activities where they can express their interests freely, including dancing. Make-up and beauty sessions are organized in between activities.

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Transgender of Pakistan 07
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
25 Dec 2014

Saima Butt, 32, from Lahore is a field worker at Khawaja Sira Society. She is very close to the elder transgender of the local community and her aim is to help all those old transgender who fall into poverty.

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Transgender of Pakistan 09
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
21 Dec 2014

Jannat, 26, poses at a transgender fashion show celebrating the end of an HIV/AIDS workshop organized by a local government-run family planning clinic. She has a master's degree in business and administration at the University of Central Punjab, and she dances as a professional Khatak dancer in the theatre and on TV.

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Transgender of Pakistan 10
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
21 Dec 2014

A transgender parade is held at a fashion show during December's month-long activities around the HIV/AIDS day. Even if Pakistan's Supreme Court recognized a third gender on state ID cards, many members of the community are reticent to apply for it due to the impossibility to visit the holy city of Mecca as a transgender.

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Transgender of Pakistan 11
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
24 Dec 2014

Anjeli, 24, from Lahore is a very popular wedding dance. Good dancers earn between 10 to 50 dollars per ceremony, depending on the economic status of the family hosting.

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Transgender of Pakistan 12
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
16 Dec 2014

Darshan, a transgender from Lahore performs the "Toli," a blessing dance where transgender are thrown money on auspicious occasions such as baby showers or weddings.

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Transgender of Pakistan 13
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
22 Dec 2014

Two transgender dancers walk away from a wedding ceremony where they had been invited. Even if legally recognized on their ID card, Pakistani society is still largely discriminating towards transgender people.