Transgender Rights in Pakistan?: Global, Colonial, and Islamic Perspectives


29 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2016 Last revised: 24 May 2019

See all articles by Jeffrey A. Redding

Jeffrey A. Redding

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: October 22, 2016


This chapter aims to help explain a recent set of extraordinary 'transgender rights' developments in Pakistan. Simultaneously, this chapter aims to both ask and answer the following question: Why transgender rights in Pakistan now? Moreover, in asking and helping answer this Pakistan-focused question, this chapter aims to raise questions about the origins of other ongoing transgender rights movements around the world, including the fundamental question as how to understand and inter-culturally translate these movements’ meanings and implications. Where have all these rights come from, and what do they mean? Is their meaning singular? Are they really about transgenderism? If not, what alternative translations and understandings of 'transgender rights' — both in contemporary Pakistan and elsewhere — can and should be made available?

The potential answers to these questions, like the questions themselves, are multiple, layered, and complex. The three different Parts of this chapter work systematically to provide three different epistemological perspectives on recent events in Pakistan, each of which is suggested by different aspects of these events. In short, this chapter's three Parts work to provide 1) an understanding of how recent transgender developments in Pakistan might be comparatively situated with — and understood as analogous to — contemporaneous developments in India and the United States alike; 2) a brief account of recent Pakistani transgender developments in which contemporary Pakistan is understood not only as a globally-situated, contemporary, and complex state, but also an active legatee of the British colonial empire and, finally, 3) a shorter and more speculative exploration of recent developments in Pakistan, seeing in them continuity with a set of longstanding Muslim discussions on gender, law, and society which differ (at least somewhat) from reigning Western discussions of these topics.

Keywords: transgender, Pakistan, comparative, colonial, Islamic

Suggested Citation

Redding, Jeffrey A., Transgender Rights in Pakistan?: Global, Colonial, and Islamic Perspectives (October 22, 2016). HUMAN RIGHTS IN TRANSLATION: INTERCULTURAL PATHWAYS (Michal Rozbicki ed., 2018) , Available at SSRN: or

Jeffrey A. Redding (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

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