The country is conservative and deeply religious and homosexuality is illegal, but it has nonetheless introduced laws that are at the global forefront of trans rights. Pakistan has officially recognised a third gender since 2009.
Laws were liberalised still further in March with a wide-ranging piece of legislation that grants intersex people, eunuchs and trans men and women the option to self-identify their gender on official forms. A person born male can now hold a female passport.
There are 13 trans candidates to choose from in Wednesday’s election.
One reason for the growing acceptance of the trans community springs from an unlikely source – Pakistan’s mullahs. The Council of Islamic Ideology, a government body that has deemed nine-year-old girls old enough to marry and approves the right of men to “lightly” beat their wives, has offered some support to trans rights.