The Pakistani government issues the very first gender-neutral passport to Farzana Riaz.
Farzana Riaz is the president of “Trans-Action Pakistan” which is a group that struggled for the rights of transgenders in Pakistan. Nonetheless, Farzana Jan is also an activist who works for the rights of minorities and is currently the first transgender in Pakistan to hold “gender-neutral passport.” In her passport, her gender is represented by neither M or F but “X”. In an interview, Farzana quoted:
“I am so happy to be recognized by the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports that I am a human and have a gender other than male and female.”
The government’s this unexpected step might pave a new path for the understanding of the rights of the transgenders in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a highly religious nation, indeed so religious that it sometimes takes shape of extremism, for example, the recent case of “Mashal” who was accused of Blasphemy and lynched to death by an angry mob without being given a fair trial. As a matter of fact, the minorities in this country have always suffered and transgenders in Pakistan are nonetheless. Every now and then, we hear a hate crime against these people with the most recent being two transgenders being kicked out of the hotel in Murree while the crowd watched the sickening show. In perspective, there are countless stories. Transgenders in Pakistan are treated ill and also made victims of sexual harassment.
Rights of Transgenders In Pakistan
On a lighter note, in 2009, The Supreme Court of Pakistan identified transgenders as a separate gender and ordered for the “gender-neutral” ID cards to be offered to them. The trans community was also given the right of voting. They were also allowed to inherit family property.
These are some of the few basic steps taken for trans community. A huge responsibility still lies on the government to take action against the hate crimes and assure the transgenders in Pakistan, their safety.