Pakistan gets its first Muslim school for trans students only

Trans students in class at Pakistan’s first trans-only madrasa in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. [Salahuddin photo courtesy of Reuters/Al Jazeera)
A transgender Muslim has opened Pakistan’s first religious school (madrasa) that’s exclusively for trans students, Al Jazeera reports.“A long white shawl on her head, Rani Khan gives daily Quran lessons at Pakistan’s first transgender-only madrasa, a religious school she set up herself using her life savings,” the article begins.The article continues:

The school is an important milestone for the LGBTQ community in the Muslim-majority 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 verses from the Quran.

“At one time, I was also one of them.”

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.

Khan studied the Quran at home and attended religious schools, before opening the two-room madrasa in October.

“I’m teaching the Quran to please God, to make my life here and in the hereafter,” Khan said, explaining how the school offered a place for transgender people to worship, learn about Islam and repent for past actions. …

Khan is teaching her students how to sew and embroider, in hopes of raising funds for the school by selling clothing.Pakistan’s parliament recognised the third gender in 2018, giving such individuals fundamental rights such as the ability to vote and choose their gender on official documents.

Nonetheless, the transgender community remains on the margins in the country, and often has to resort to begging, dancing and prostitution to make a living. …

[In addition to the new trans madrasa in Islamabad,] a madrasa for transgender people has opened in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and last year, a Christian transgender group started its own church in Pakistan’s bustling southern port city of Karachi.

Pakistan’s 2017 census recorded about 10,000 transgender people, though trans rights groups say the number could now be well over 300,000 in the country of 220 million.

For more information, read the full article, “Pakistan’s first transgender-only madrasa breaks barriers”.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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