Pakistan now has better legal protections for trans citizens than the U.S.

Pakistan's transgender community is facing increasing attacks. Erin Rook

The right to have your gender legally recognized. The prohibition of discrimination in medical and educational facilities, housing and any public accomodation. The establishment of government safe houses for protection. Sensitivity training for public servants, including police.

This sounds like a wish list for transgender people in the U.S.

In Pakistan, it’s now the law.

The Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act was passed by the Pakistani Parliament and took effect late last week. The measure makes Pakistan among the world’s leaders in protecting its trans citizens.

The contrast is especially sharp compared to the U.S. Here, President Trump wants to ban transgender military personnel and roll back health care coverage. He’s already stripped transgender prisoners of their protections against rape and abuse.

Meanwhile, fellow Republicans continue to wage war against transgender people’s right to pee, going to far as to harass people in bathrooms. 

That doesn’t mean Pakistan is a paradise for trans people. It’s a conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is still illegal. Harassment is common, as is violence.

But now the laws are in place to offer protections and lead to a change for the better. That will take time.

“We now face the challenge of fighting for the law to be enforced in its true spirit and that may take another a decade or two,” Ashee Butt, founder of the Be Ghar Foundation, which runs a shelter for transgender people, told Reuters.

Right-wing politicians around the world often cloak their Islamophobia in faux-sympathy for gay rights. But you can bet that they will never acknowledge that when it comes to transgender rights, a Muslim country has many of the Western nations beat.

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