Pakistan opens public school for transgender students

Transgender community gathers to protest hate crimes in Pakistan

Pakistan has opened a public school exclusively for transgender pupils, believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country.

Around 20 students will attend the school, which was established by the government-run literacy department in the Lodhran district, in the Punjab province, according to Daily Pakistan.

Chief spokesperson of the chief minister of the Punjab in Pakistan, Shahbaz Gil, shared a video taken in the classroom of the school on Twitter.

He wrote: “Transgender school established in Lodhran city under Literacy department. Under Usman Buzdar’s leadership Punjab will grow and prosper inshallah.”

Last year, the region’s School Education Department directed education authorities to make sure transgender children are treated as equals in government-run and private schools across the area.

First transgender government employee

Last year, the Pakistani government hired its first transgender employee.

The Benazir Income Support Programme, a federal unconditional cash transfer poverty reduction programme, announced the historic hire in a letter stating the new employee would join the Islamabad headquarters as a cafeteria cook.

“It is still unbelievable I got a respectable government job on merit and now I will be able to earn money with full respect and dignity,” said the new employee, knows as Nomi, talking to the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune.

Nomi described cooking as one of her passions. She doesn’t have any formal qualifications, but she learnt how to cook from her mother. She felt validated by the job offer as she was often told she wouldn’t be able to make a living through lawful employment.

“My appointment is an answer to those people, especially my neighbours and relatives, who believe that a person like me can only earn through illegal means,” she said.

“I hope now people will feel proud of me rather than degrading me” she added.

Legal rights for transgender people

Last May, Pakistan’s parliament passed a law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender people, in a move hailed by advocates as historic for the country.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act allows people to self-identify as male, female or non-binary and to have that identity recorded on official documents, including passports and ID cards.

Human rights activists praised the bill for helping to pave the way for greater acceptance and inclusivity at a time when members of the trans community continue face disproportionate violence and discrimination.