Pakistan’s Transgender Community Rises Up

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02/21/2023

Dr. Sarah Gill was just 14 when she ran away from home in Karachi. For most of her childhood, she had suffered the humiliation of feeling like a girl but being told she was a boy. She used to quarrel with her mother for making her dress like a boy and would refuse to study unless she was allowed to grow her hair long. “From my features, it was always very obvious that I wasn’t a guy,” she says. “People used to degrade me a lot because of my looks. They would come to my house and tell my parents all sorts of things about me.” One day—Sarah remembers only that she was in the ninth grade—her parents had a male relative over for dinner. He took one look at her and sternly declared that her femininity would end up disgracing the household. “He said that with me being the way I was, no one would send marriage proposals for any of the girls in our family. I remember my father fell silent and that none of us finished our dinner that evening.”

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