The National Assembly of Pakistan enacted The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights), Act 2018 on 8th May 2018. The Act provides legal recognition to transgender persons and prohibits discrimination and harassment. It also places an obligation on local governments to provide for the welfare of the community.
DEFINITION OF “TRANSGENDER PERSONS”
The definition of “transgender persons” in the Act includes intersex persons (khusra), persons assigned male at birth who have undergone sex-reassignment surgeries (“eunuchs”), and Khwaja Sira. It also includes transgender men, transgender women, and any persons whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the gender assigned at birth.
SELF-IDENTIFICATION OF GENDER IDENTITY
Everyone is permitted to self-identify their gender without external authorization. The Act requires that transgender persons be registered with all government departments, including the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
Significantly, the Act prohibits discrimination against transgender persons in education, employment, and healthcare as well as harassment within and outside of the home on the basis of gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Transgender persons are guaranteed all fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.
In addition, the Act recognises transgender persons’ right to property inheritance, voting, education, employment, healthcare, assembly, access to public places and to hold public office. It also obligates local governments to facilitate and include transgender persons in institutions such as shelter homes, hospitals and prisons. Finally, the Act directs local governments to initiate public awareness and training programs.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights), Act 2018 is a progressive step towards the realization of transgender rights in Pakistan. Transgender rights activists regarded the Act as a historic victory and have expressed commitment to the struggle for its enforcement.