“I have received my passport which mentions my gender as X and not as a male or female.”
The Pakistani government issued the passport to Farzana Riaz, the co-founder and President of trans rights organisation TransAction.
“I have received my passport which mentions my gender as X and not as a male or female,” Farzana told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Earlier I had a passport which had described my gender as a male. But this time I told the authorities that I won’t accept my passport if it doesn’t identify me as a transgender,” the 30 year-old activist said.
In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex, allowing transgender people to obtain identity cards. Trans people number at least half a million in the country, according to several studies.
Like Farzana, many earn their living by being called upon for rituals such as blessing newborns or to bring life to weddings and parties as dancers — and, sometimes, in more clandestine ways. But despite these signs of integration they live daily as pariahs, often reduced to begging and prostitution, subjected to extortion and discrimination.
“Now it will be more convenient for me to travel abroad because earlier I faced problems at international airports because of a contradiction in my appearance and sex mention on my passport,” Farzana sad.
Meanwhile, homosexuality, prohibited by Islam, is punishable by 10 years imprisonment or 100 lashes in Pakistan.
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