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Star Wars actor Riz Ahmed hangs with Pakistan’s trans women in Karachi

Star Wars actor Riz Ahmed hangs with Pakistan’s trans women in Karachi

Riz Ahmed with a trans woman in Pakistan

Actor Riz Ahmed has penned a touching tribute to Pakistan’s trans women during his visit to the country.

The Rogue One: Star Wars actor is in the South Asian country visiting his ancestral roots for the first time in 13 years.

‘Buzzing from my first trip to Pakistan in 13yrs. I’ll be posting photos / videos / impressions from this amazing country over the next week,’ Ahmed wrote on Instagram.

The rising Hollywood star was born in England to Pakistani parents and has often spoken about his connection to Pakistan.

Part of his visit to Pakistan involved stopping in to learn more about the country’s trans community, who are also known as Khwaaja Sarai.

He posted several photos on social media documenting his experience and raising awareness about the violence the community face.

‘The transgender community has been an established part of South Asian culture for hundreds of years. You see many many more transgender people walking around in Pakistan than in New York or London,’ Ahmed wrote.

‘In recent times Pakistan has even had a recognised ‘third gender’ on official government documents, cementing their place in society.’

Pakistan’s Khwaaja Sarai

One of the photos Ahmed shared was of a woman whose face was bloodied after a street attack.

A trans woman in Karachi staring out the window with cuts on her face
A trans woman in Karachi. | Photo: Instagram via @rizahmed

‘Despite this recognition however, they are marginalised and often earn a living through dancing, sex work or a kind of spiritual begging (it is believed their prayers and curses carry more weight, so it’s best not to anger them, and instead to seek their blessings),’ Ahmed wrote.

‘Same sex relationships are very common in Pakistan and often not thought of as a sign of homosexuality. In many ways this is a non binary culture – in terms of gender, sexuality, and faith.’

Riz Ahmed won an Emmy for his role in the HBO series The Night Of and was one of the ‘boys’ featured in the Charlie XCX music video, Boys.

He is also an established rapper who goes by the name of Riz MC. His hip hop group the Swet Shop Boys, often rap about cultural identity.