Big win for transgender community in Pakistan, first passport denoting third sex issued

The passport issued to transgender Farzana Jan had X written on it to denote the third sex printed under the gender category

In a huge win for the transgender community in Pakistan, the government has decided to issue its first passport with a transgender category. Elated with the decision, the marginalised society is calling it an important milestone in their fight against discrimination.

Pakistan had issued a passport last week to transgender activist Farzana Jan. The travel document had X written on it to denote the third sex printed under the gender category. In a country where homosexuality is still a crime, Jan said that the introduction of the X classification – along with M for Male and F for Female – is a big boost to their struggle for legal recognition in Pakistan.

“Men and women both have been given their identity, but we were deprived of this right. We are happy there is a growing realisation that we should be given our identity,” Jan said.

Jan added how they also want to see how the world looks like but have been facing travel issues. “We also want to see how the outside world is. But we have been facing many problems with regard to complications in our travel documents. But, thank God, this issue has now been resolved,” she said.

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Trans Action Pakistan estimates that there are nearly half a million transgenders in Pakistan although, there is no official figure. Several steps have been taken by Pakistan’s Supreme Court to recognise their basic rights but they still face discrimination in terms of health, education, and jobs.

The court had in 2009 said that “hijras” – which include transvestites, transsexuals and eunuchs – can get national identity cards under a “third sex.” Transgenders in Pakistan also have equal rights including the right to vote, the right to inherit property and assets, and they are also counted under a separate category in the national census.

However, they still face violence and stigma and are attacked, murdered, raped or forced to work as sex workers. Many still have to depend on begging on the streets to make a living.

Also Read: Meet Zara Sheikha: the first Transgender HR Executive hired by an MNC

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