Pakistan to offer health insurance scheme for transgender people for the first time

The transgender community are often denied treatment in the Muslim-majority country


Words: Steve Brown

Pakistan will now offer a health insurance scheme for transgender people for the first time.

In a move to end discrimination in access to care, all transgender people will be eligible for medical treatment including reconstructive surgery under the new scheme, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly said his government was ‘taking responsibility’ for trans people, who have often been denied treatment and can face harassment from hospital staff and other patients.

Zafar Mirza, a specialist assistant to Khan, said: “It is part of a grand programme to provide health insurance not just to the poor but the vulnerable sections of society, including ... transgender (people).

“Any person who identifies as transgender is eligible for this health insurance programme.”

The new insurance programme is set to fight against the social exclusion of the transgender community in the conservative Muslim-majority country.

Homosexuality is still a crime in Pakistan and the transgender community gained recognition in 2009.

Zehrish Khan, project manager for transgender rights group Gender Interactive Alliance, welcomed the government’s move, but said: “The scheme is good but healthcare providers need to be sensitised.

“Many of us resort to drugs and alcohol because we need psychiatric help and empathy to overcome the continuous harassment we face.”