In conservative Pakistan, a 35-year-old trans woman opens a shop at the Karachi market, one of the brand new markets in the area.
Jiya, who goes only by a single name has done a groundbreaking job of opening a public shop for women and trans women in a place where most tailoring shops are run predominantly by men.
Not many trans women venture out with their tailoring businesses in public for fear of discrimination. They prefer to run their own shops at home because of how they are treated in a country with many conservative Muslims.
The month of April marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and this is the time when people buy new clothes to celebrate Eid-el-Fitr which symbolizes the end of Ramadan. Jiya’s customers have voiced out how they are much more comfortable having their measurements and clothes done by a trans woman.
“I felt comfortable while she took my measurements,” customer Farzana Zahid said.
Jiya also said that she wants to expand her business and hopes that she can open a boutique with Eastern and Western designs and all other types of dresses.
One of the reasons why trans women have a hard time opening a shop at the public market is that many landlords are still reluctant to lease their space. Jiya wasn’t able to secure a spot at The Stitch Shop which was in the southern part of the city. But she was determined to find a space with two trans women who work alongside her. When they found a place, they opened the shop just in time for the start of Ramadan.
Though the third gender was recognized in Pakistan in 2018, many trans people are still discriminated. But, recognizing a third gender also means that they have been given fundamental rights such as the ability to vote and change their gender on official documents.