Pakistan issued first third-gender passport to transgender activist

Vastavam web:  Pakistan has issued its first third-gender passport to a transgender activist, who hailed the move as a step forward for the marginalized community in the deeply conservative South Asian country. Farzana Riaz, a transgender in northwestern Peshawar city, said the new passport would help her campaign globally on behalf of her community, who are also known as khawajasiras an umbrella term in Pakistan denoting a third sex that includes transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs.

“Earlier I had a passport which had described my gender as a male. But this time I told the authorities that I won’t accept my passport if it doesn’t identify me as a transgender,” the 30-year-old co-founder and president of rights organisation TransAction said.”Now it will be more convenient for me to travel abroad because earlier I faced problems at international airports because of a contradiction in my appearance and sex mention on my passport,” she added.In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognize a third sex, allowing transgenders to obtain identity cards, while several have also run in elections.Like Farzana, many earn their living by being called upon for rituals such as blessing newborns or to bring life to weddings and parties as dancers and, sometimes, in more clandestine ways.