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Pakistan’s federal government hires first trans employee

Pakistan’s federal government hires first trans employee

a group of people surrounded a woman holding a bouquet of flowers

A trans woman hired as a public servant in Pakistan’s government feels proud her employers hired her on merit.

Known simply as Nomi, the woman will now work as a cook in Pakistan’s federal building.

Hired under the  Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Nomi will work in the capital Islamabad. She told The Express Tribune that she felt happy the company hired her on merit.

‘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,’ she said.

Nomi learnt her cooking skills off her mother and feels happy the government accepts her after facing discrimination.

‘My parents have passed away… I was living with my brothers and sisters, but the attitude of my neighbours and relatives forced me to shift from there. Now whenever I have to meet my family, I go in late hours so that no one can see me and return before dawn,’ she said.

‘I hope now people will feel proud of me rather than degrading me by calling me ‘Khusra’ and asking me to dance.’

No discrimination

Her employers guaranteed that anyone caught harassing Nomi because of her gender identity would be immediately fired.

‘It’s a proud moment for us that Nomi has joined our team. And it is just a beginning as we are looking forward to hiring more transgender persons,’ said BISP Additional Director General Conditional Cash Transfers Naveed Akbar.

Nomi’s hiring comes amidst growing acceptance and improved legal recognition of the trans community in Pakistan. A comprehensive trans rights Act overhauled the legal rights for trans people, who can now choose a third gender on passports and national ID cards.

But despite the progress, trans women still face daily discrimination and brutal violence.

Last month, disturbing footage emerged of a mob burying a trans woman alive for resisting a man’s sexual advances. That attack comes as almost 500 trans woman have been violently assaulted in one province alone in 2018.