Hijra Power

Trans Candidate Seeking Pakistani Office: We’re Citizens Too

The president of Pakistan’s She-male Association, Shahana Abbas Shani, has announced that she will run for a seat on the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, the country’s most populous province.

Speaking with Pakistan’s Express Tribune this week, Shani says her goal is to bring to light problems faced by the country’s large but largely disenfranchised transgender community.

“There is no other way for us to be heard,” says Shani, “and now when the Supreme Court of Pakistan has allowed us to have an identity card, we will fight for our rights.”

In 2009, Pakistan’s chief justice ordered that the country’s estimated 80,000 to 300,000 hijras be recognized as a distinct third gender on national identity cards. But the ruling has been mostly ignored, causing hardship for many hijras, especially during times of crisis—like the country’s recent severe flooding—when identity cards are needed in order to receive government aid.

Shani says that since women and minorities already have reserved seats in Pakistan’s National Assembly, so should her community.

As Shani points out, “We are also citizens of Pakistan.”

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