Pakistan recently welcomed students into the country's first-ever school designed to serve the transgender community. Forty students are enrolled at the Gender Guardian, a school for transgender students that opened its doors April 15.
The response to the school has been so positive that two more schools for transgender students are reportedly slated to open in the next few months.
Located in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province, the Gender Guardian school is currently offering courses in computers, mobile repair, graphic design, cookery and fashion. The curriculum and courses were designed according to the educational needs of the students who planned to enroll.
The school offers 12 years of education, from elementary school to college and vocational classes that can help students land a job once they're ready to enter the workforce. It was launched by the nonprofit Exploring Future Foundation (EFF).
Asif Shahzad, director of the Gender Guardian, noted that the idea for the school came about after the 2016 bombing of a school for transgender students in Indonesia. "It was the only such school in any Islamic country in the world," Shahzad tells Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan. "After that, we decided to provide them education and bring them to the mainstream," he added.
A huge milestone has been achieved in granting transgender their rights in the country through Pakistan’s first ever transgender school.Named The Gender Guardian, the school offers a full 12 years of academic education from primary level to matriculation & leading up to college. pic.twitter.com/n5Y9wDHHRi— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) April 19, 2018
While there's still a long way to go, the opening of the Gender Guardian school is just the latest in a series of steps that show a new openness toward the transgender community in Pakistan. Last month, the country’s Senate unanimously approved a bill protecting the rights of transgender people and empowering them to determine their own gender identity. The country also recently welcomed its first transgender newscaster, Marvia Malik, to a Lahore-based news program.