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Pakistan Passes a Transgender Rights Law

Pakistan's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday that guarantees fundamental rights to the country's transgender citizens.

The landmark legislation gives citizens the right to choose their gender identity and to have it recognized on official documents such as passports. The bill guarantees a transgender person the right to be recognized as their "self-perceived gender" as well as the right to freely express their gender identity.

In addition, the measure prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals under a range of circumstances and requires the government to establish "Protection Centers and Safe Houses."

Pakistan has a complicated history when it comes to transgender issues. While "hijras," as transgender women in Pakistan are known, have traditionally been considered good luck, they also face serious discrimination and violence.

Activists have lauded the bill as "historic," Al Jazeera reports.

"This kind of development is not only unprecedented in Pakistani history, but it's one of the most progressive laws in the whole world," Mehlab Jameel, an activist who helped to write the legislation, told NPR.