A transgender Islamic school in Pakistan breaks barriers

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03/21/2021

A long white shawl on her head, Rani Khan gives daily Koran lessons at Pakistan’s first transgender-only madrasa, or Islamic religious school, which she set up herself using her life savings. The madrasa is an important milestone for the LGBTQ community in the overwhelmingly fundamental Muslim country, where transgender people face ostracism, even though there is no official restriction on them attending religious schools or praying at mosques. “Most families do not accept transgender people. They throw them out of their homes. Transgender people turn to wrongdoing,” Khan, 34, said, as other transgender people, their heads similarly covered, swayed back and forth behind her, reciting Koran verses. “At one time, I was also one of them.” Holding back tears, Khan recalled how she was disowned by her family at 13 and forced into begging. At 17, she joined a transgender group, dancing at weddings and other functions, but quit it to connect with her religion after a dream in which a deceased transgender friend and fellow dancer pleaded with her to do something for the community.

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