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April 18, 2013 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-18

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6A - Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Pakistan sees first
transgender candidate

Historic election
marks progress
for transgender
community
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP)
- When Bindiya Rana, a trans-
gender candidate in Pakistan's
elections, went door to door in
the Karachi slum she hopes to
represent, few people seemed
to care about which gender she
identifies with. They were more
interested in what she was
going to do to combat the street
crime and electricity outages in
their neighborhood if elected.
For the first time in Paki-
stan's history, transgender
people are running as candi-
dates. The development marks
a sign of progress for transgen-
der people in this conservative
country, where they have long
been met by abuse.
Transgender refers to peo-
ple who present themselves to
the world in a way that does
not correspond with their sex
at birth. In Pakistan, that usu-
ally means people born as men
who now dress like women and
wear makeup. They identify as
a "third gender" rather than as
male or female but usually ask
to be referred to by the femi-
nine pronoun since there is no
third-gender pronoun.
Rana has always been active
in her community, and works at
an organization that helps pro-
mote the rights of transgender
people as well as street children

and other social issues. But
after a Supreme Court ruling
in 2011 allowed members of the
transgender community to get
national identity cards recog-
nizing them as a separate iden-
tity - neither male or female
- and allowing them to vote,
she decided to run for office as
well.
She's vying for a provincial
assembly seat in the May 11
national elections.
"People ask if we will win or
lose in the elections. But I won
when my nomination papers
were submitted," she said.
The Supreme Court's deci-
sion didn't explicitly say that
transgender people could run
for office, but by getting the
identity cards and the right
to vote the road was opened
for them. Before the court's
decision, transgender people
could get identity cards only
if they identified themselves
as men.
Almas Boby, president of the
Pakistan Shemale Foundation,
which advocates for members
of the transgender community,
said she knows of at least five
transgender candidates tak-
ing part in the elections. Two,
including Rana, are running in
the southern port city of Kara-
chi, and one each from the cities
of Jehlum, Gujrat, and Sargod-
ha in Punjab province.
"The Supreme Court of Paki-
stan gave us our rights. Now
transgendered people are also
contesting elections, and our
thousands of people will vote
for them," Boby said.

"If our people manage to
reach assemblies, we will get a
better treatment in society," she
said.
Male and female roles are
clearly defined in Pakistan, and
transgender people often face
harassment and abuse - even
from their own families. Some
are pushed out of the home
when they are young and end
up prostituting themselves to
earn a living.
One role where they are tol-
erated is as dancers at weddings
and other celebrations at which
men and women are strictly
segregated. In between the
dancing and showers of rupee
notes, they must fend off grop-
ing from drunken guests.
They can also be seen beg-
ging for money in the streets,
wearing female dress and
makeup. Many earn money by
blessing newborn babies, which
reflects a widespread belief in
Pakistan and other South Asian
nations that God answers the
prayers of someone born under-
privileged.
Rana herself faced harass-
ment from her own family,
when she started to realize at
the age of 12 that she was differ-
ent than the other kids around
her. When she was 14, she ran
away from home and found
work dancing at weddings and
celebrations.
Running for office - and the
possibility of actually serving
in office - is a way to highlight
the role of transgender people
in Pakistan, said many of the
candidates.

KIN CHEUNG/AP
A South Korean protester burns banners with pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korea protest
rally in downtown Seoul Thursday.
North Korea demandsU
halt sanctions, stop drill1s

Isolated nation
sets conditions for
resuming talks
PYONGYANG, North Korea
(AP) - North Korea on Thurs-
day demanded the withdrawal
of U.N. sanctions and the end of
U.S.-South Korea military drills
as conditions for resuming talks
meant to defuse tension on the
Korean Peninsula.
The statement from the Pol-
icy Department of the National
Defense Commission, the coun-
try's top governing body, came

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tensions and honor previous dis- month. North Korea has denied
armament agreements. responsibility for the cyberattack.
"Dialogue can never go with Later Thursday, South Korea's
war actions," said the statement, Foreign Ministry dismissed the
which was carried by the official North's demand as illogical. "We
Korean Central News Agency. again strongly urge North Korea
Before the talks can resume, to stop this kind of insistence that
the statement said the U.S. must we cannot totally understand
also withdraw all nuclear weap- and go down the path of a wise
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DAILY,
YOU WOULD HAVE
KNOWN ALREADY

q

THOUGH I'M
SURE THERE ARE
APPS FOR THAT.
THERE ARE,
DEFINITELY
STILL
READ THE DAILY.
MICHIGANDAILY
.COM

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