Pakistan Transgender Leader Runs for Election


Shahana Abbas Shani, President of Pakistan’s She-male Association, has announced that she will run in elections as an independent candidate for the city of Muzaffargarh for the Punjab provincial assembly.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Shani said that she has made the decision because she wants to discuss problems faced by her community, which she says have been ignored by Pakistani society, in the assembly.

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

The landmark 2009 court decision recognizing a ‘third gender’ has not been enforced by authorities, which caused severe problems for trans people during the recent devastating flooding, particularly in Sindh province, through a lack of ID cards. In November of last year the court ordered that they be registered as voters.

During the disaster, transgender people were left out of the aid efforts and denied access to IDP camps because of general prejudice, their non-conforming appearance and their lack of proper identification documents.

Bindiya Rana, of Gender Interactive Alliance, explains that no third-gender ID cards have been given out. As a result, many transgender citizens lack any identification documents at all. According to Rana, this occurs because “a lot of transgenders get separated from their parents from a very young age and are unable to get their parents’ ID cards and other supporting documents which are required to get an ID.”

Similar instances of aid denial occurred in post-earthquake Haiti.

Shani said that the Punjab assembly should pass rights legislation and that there should be reserved seats for transgender people — known as ‘Hijra’ in South Asia — in the National Assembly. Women and minorities already have reserved seats.

Her association has participated in protests against the November 26 NATO attack and the killing of Pakistani army personnel — where Barack Obama’s effigy was burnt.

“We will fight at our country’s borders if the forces need us,” Shani said.


Related articles

Queer Pride Celebrations in India (Video)

2011 International LGBT Roundup: Transgender and Intersex Rights

In Pakistan’s Floods, Trans People ‘Languishing Silently in Pain’


Photo of a Pakistani hijra at a protest between two hijra groups from Islamabad and Rawalpindi from Wikimedia


Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.6 years ago

so sad... barbarity can be so extreme in some nations... making some humans less than human is the worst kind.

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

Thanks noted

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Best wishes for your campaign.

Jay O.
Jay T. Stone6 years ago

Hey, John. Would you say that to an interesexed person? What a luxury it would be to just accept the way you were born as opposed to believing that you are something else.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

If there was such a party here in the US I would vote for them.

Uroosa K.
Uroosa K6 years ago

Why can't Pakistan recognize them as their new gender, like if Shahana is now a female, she should be given a female id card. It's what she is right?

John Mansky
John Mansky6 years ago

When will people learn to accept what you are and "not" what you "think" you are! Gee,look I am an auto? Or an airplane?..

Jennifer S.
Jennifer S6 years ago

Very courageous! Best of luck to her. It's tragic and unconscionable that transgendered people were denied aid during the disasters in Pakistan and Haiti. They should be given the same consideration and compassion as any other human being.

John Duqesa
Past Member 6 years ago

I'm so pleased that she is doing this.