Rewrite: Trans woman in Pakistan set on fire for resisting sexual assault from cis men

Rewrite is a TransAdvocate feature wherein unethical journalism is corrected and rewritten in ways that are respectful of the trans, intersex, and genderqueer experience. Today’s Rewrite comes from The Time of India.


LAHORE: A transgender woman in Pakistan died on Saturday after he she was set on fire allegedly by four cisgender persons when he she resisted their attempt to sexually assault he her.

The transgender woman suffered 80 percent burn injuries and died while he she was being taken to a hospital in Lahore.

According to police, the four cisgender men accused took the transgender woman to a deserted place near a cab station in Sahiwal district, around 250 kms from Lahore, on Thursday and set him her on fire after he she resisted their attempt to sexually assault him her.

In the north part of Pakistan, the transgender community is very unsafe, due to attacks from cisgender people. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Human Rights Directorate has taken serious notice of the rise in the incidents of cisgender violence against transgenders people and has directed all departments concerned to share their investigation into the murder of transgender persons recently on a daily basis.

Pakistan’s parliament in May last year passed a law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender citizens and outlawing discrimination by both employers and private business owners.

Rewrite is an effort to demonstrate ethical reporting about the trans, intersex, and genderqueer community. The original article titled Transgender in Pakistan set on fire for resisting sexual assault demonstrated the following reporting problems:

  • Misgendering: misrepresenting the gender identity of a transgender person is, especially in the context of anti-trans violence, unethical. For reporting purposes, the pronouns of transgender women are she and her, and he and him for transgender men. A transgender woman is someone who was sexed male at birth and transitioned to female; likewise, a transgender man is someone who was sexed female at birth and transitioned to male.
  • Othering: If an article makes use of the transgender designation, it’s appropriate to treat all subjects likewise. In other words, if someone is identified as transgender, non-transgender people should be identified as cisgender.
  • Misuse of the term, “transgender”: “Transgender” should not be used as a noun. Generally speaking, transgender should be used as an adjective: transgender person, community, or experience.

Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.