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Watch: Pakistan's first trans-friendly salon opens for business

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Watch: Pakistan's first trans-friendly salon opens for business
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A woman in Pakistan has opened the country's first trans-friendly beauty salon.

Discrimination against transgender individuals in Pakistan is rife, despite the passing of the Transgender Protection Act in May 2018.

Bebo Haider, a 35-year-old trans woman, opened the salon after she could not find one willing to give her an appointment. Ingrained prejudice means many beauty salons refuse to cater to transgender women, or even let them enter.

"One day I wanted a haircut, I tried many salons but they all refused to give me an appointment, saying that they don't treat transgender people. They said that my voice was male, so they couldn't give me an appointment without asking the owner," Haider says.

Haider named her salon "Trawah" – a slang word for makeover used by the Pakistani transgender community – and says anyone is welcome for some "me time" and will never be asked about their gender.

Kami Sid is a regular customer, who says she has faced discrimination and stigma in the past. "I think people do [discriminate] because they lack awareness and are mentally not prepared to accept us. Transgender people are not different from anyone else at all," she says.

But some in the city are resolute in their prejudices. Fouzia Naz owns a female beauty parlour at which she says the transgender community is not welcome. "We don't allow transgender people because at the salon we avoid them, especially when a hand massage or a leg wax is being done. We also don't like going near them because they are not of the female gender."

Haider's dream is for the transgender community to integrate with the rest of Pakistani society. For now, she continues to welcome trans and non-trans women into her salon, hoping to make a difference on a smaller scale.

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