Uzma Zafar

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Virginia, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9938

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Zafar, Uzma (Virginia, U. of) "Queering Pakistan: Khwaja sira Legal Identity and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018"

In Khaki vs Rawalpindi (2009), the Pakistani Supreme Court created three new legaI categories of gender identification: 1. Khwaja sira (male exhibiting feminine traits) 2. Khwaja sira (female exhibiting masculine traits) 3. Khunsa-e-mushkil (hermaphrodite). In 2018, Pakistani Parliament ratify the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act (TPA 2018). My research explores how Pakistani khwaja sira and LGBTQ communities, alongside lawyers and NGO activists, are interpreting the historically indigenous, criminalized category of ‘khwaja sira’, now available as a legalized identity for all Pakistani citizens following the TPA 2018. I ask: What interpretive frames are generated for ‘khwaja sira’ identity through its legal delineation? How does the social life of law, assembled through interpretive acts within and between communities, create possibilities of a liveable human identity? I hypothesize that a) khwaja sira and LGBTQ communities in Pakistan are using the TPA 2018 to rearticulate ‘khwaja sira’ identity as liveable, and b) in so doing, are using legal consciousness to open new meanings of being ‘khwaja sira’. Moving beyond legal pluralism to posit legal ecologies where different actors engage emergent possibilities in ecosystems of meaning (Curran 2017), I explore the TPA 2018 as a continually transforming presence made through social acts of interpretation.