History got made today with the Pakistan transgender rights bill
Steps in the right direction
In a move that activists marked as historic for our conservative neighbour, the Pakistan transgender rights bill passed earlier this week gives transgender Pakistani citizens fundamental rights. But the what’s truly commendable is the wide range of protection this act offers transgender citizens. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act will give citizens the right to self-identify as whichever gender they choose. Whether male, female or someone who identifies with both sexes, Pakistani law will now allow you to not only identify but also register on all official documents, including National Identification Cards, passports, driver’s licenses and education certificates.
“In fighting for this bill, we were not fighting for those transgender people who have already lived 40 or 50 years,” said Bindiya Rana, transgender activist according to Al Jazeera. “We have been fighting for the next generation of transgender Pakistanis.”
Under this law, Pakistani transgenders are protected from discrimination at schools, work and public modes of transport. It accords them the right to vote, run for office and their right to inherit property with the gender they chose to align with.
While India’s Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 was finally passed in 2016 , there are still many amendments that have been added for revision to the bill. For starters, the definition of ‘transgender’ according to Indian law was limited in scope. The revised definition will give citizens the right to choose from gender options independent of surgery or hormone therapy. The 2018 recommendations for revisions also propose that discrimination against trans people be better defined and made punishable by law.
It’s sad that we still live in an age where some human beings don’t have basic human rights but it gives us hope that things are changing. While both south Asian countries have made progressive strides on this front, there is a long way to go and a lot we could learn from each other.