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Transgender woman breaks barriers, sets up tailor shop in Karachi

KARACHI: A transgender woman, Jiya has broken ground by opening a public shop to make clothes for women and transgender in the Saddar area of the metropolis.

Jiya, who studied at an all-boys school and learned tailoring with the help of fellow trans women, opening her shop marks the start of her ambition.

Jiya, a 35-year-old founder of a tailor shop that makes beautiful and modernly embroidered clothes for women, during an interview said initially several landlords were reluctant to give a shop to her despite offering a huge amount of rent.

She later managed to get a new shop after efforts of 14 days, which she opened with two other trans women ahead of Ramazan in mid-April.

Jiya said, “In Karachi, there are more men who sew women’s clothes, while often women have trouble giving clothes to men, but after opening a shop by them, women’s troubles have lessened.” She added.

“However, women are happy to bring clothes in my shop for sewing instead of men’s shop,” Jiya said.“We want to expand this business like a boutique with Eastern and Western designs, all types of dresses,” she said.

Many of her customers are women, who said they preferred that a transgender woman makes their clothes, a change from most other tailoring shops run by men. “I felt comfortable while she took my measurements,” customer Farzana Zahid said.

They are also being praised for earning money in the right direction. Other trans people running tailoring businesses have tended to do so out of their homes, wary of ostracism in a country where Khwaja siras are often subjected to discrimination.

Pakistan’s parliament recognized the third gender in 2018, giving trans persons fundamental rights such as the ability to vote and choose their gender on official documents.

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