Senate decision bolsters transgender rights in Pakistan

Jannat Ali, photo from dailytimes.com.pk
  • Transgender people are at a disadvantage with division their family estate. Portions of inheritance are determined by gender, with men getting twice as women.
  • For trans siblings, this could present an issue as they were required to undergo sex reassignment surgery and have their gender confirmed before they can claim their due.
  • Last month, the Pakistani Senate approved a legislation that would allow them to declare their gender without medical proof. Consequently, they can receive their inheritance without transitioning.

Life isn’t easy for a transgender person in Pakistan. For Jannat Ali, transgender woman, the societal pressure to live either as male or female as she longed go out in public as a woman.

“I always felt uncomfortable sitting with boys,” she said. She would save enough to pay for dancing lessons, letting her family knew she was doing yoga. “When I was dancing, I was free – wherever I was.”

Family support

Her story, published in a transgender new article published by Al Jazeera last March 6, highlighted her struggles, as well as the plight of many transgender people in the country.

Even Ali’s dancing caught her family’s concern after it was broadcasted in TV networks. While she had their support, her sibling at one point told her she was besmirching their name and had contributed nothing to the family despite that the fact that she was the breadwinner.

“I have been earning for seven years,” Ali revealed. “I did not save anything for myself.”

In Pakistan, transgender people are called hijra. Historically, they’ve been revered to be bestowed with divine powers and served in positions of influence during the Mughal period. The British colonization criminalized begging, their only way to earn, and considered them criminal.

Presently, they were cut off from participating in the economy, earning their livelihood through begging and attending ceremonies and weddings.

Legislative reforms and transgender rights

Transgender people are also at a disadvantage with division their family estate. Portions of inheritance are determined by gender, with men getting twice as women.

For trans siblings, this could present an issue as they were required to undergo sex reassignment surgery and have their gender confirmed before they can claim their due.

Last month, the Pakistani Senate approved a legislation that would allow them to declare their gender without proof. Consequently, they can receive their inheritance without transitioning.

“Transgenders have the right to live with dignity and avail all fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution,” Senator Sehar Kamran said.

Other key legislatives reforms were pushed. In 2011, they were granted the right to vote and equal treatment under the law on the right to inheritance.

In 2017, it was decided they were going to be included in the next national census.

Systemic discrimination

But despite the protection afforded to them by the law, transgender Pakistani continue to struggle with inherent, systemic discrimination in many areas, including healthcare, housing, transportation, and employment.

Worse, they were targets for violence and attacks.

For instance, in 2016, a transgender woman who was fatally shot died while the hospital was trying to decide whether to admit her to a male or female ward. Another trans woman was gang-raped in January.

But many transgender advocates remained hopeful that legal protections would improve their lives.

For Jannat Ali, she would want to continue performing on stage as a dancer away from the disapproval of her family on her choices.

“Dance is my best friend. At least I have a platform where I can be myself,” she stated.

Via

About Maki 212 Articles
Trans advocate, beauty queen, model, runner. Marketing director of myladyboydate.com and mytranssexualdate.com.

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