Virus pushes Pakistan’s transgender dancers out of their homes

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02/20/2020

Before the virus shutdown, dancer Adnan Ali had carved out a comfortable living performing at parties for newlyweds and newborns, avoiding the financial hardship faced by many in Pakistan’s transgender community. But the closure of wedding halls and scrapped celebrations where she would twist and twirl in front of applauding crowds have frozen her income, forcing her out of the one-bedroom apartment she rented in a wealthy suburb of Islamabad. Now she shares a cramped single room in a shelter with other transgender dancers who have also lost work because of a nationwide lockdown triggered by the pandemic. “I want to return to a routine again, to dance again and to do something good in my life,” said Ali, sitting barefoot on the steps of the house in Pakistan’s capital. Transgender people in the country are known as “khawajasiras” or “hijras” — an umbrella term denoting a third sex that includes transgender women and cross-dressers.

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