Uproar after Pakistani hospital lets trans gunshot victim die

A horrific story from Pakistan of a hospital refusing to treat a transgender woman who was the victim of gunshot wounds.

The victim, a Pakistani trans activist named Alisha, had been shot multiple times (the local trans activist group, Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says she was shot eight times at point-blank range). Her friends say the hospital staff at the Peshwar’s Lady Reading Hospital, refused to treat her, and instead mocked her.

The staff reportedly came up with all sorts of reasons not to treat Alisha, including claiming they didn’t know what ward to put her in, the men’s ward or the women’s. The staff also allegedly asked her about her breast and genitals, and whether she was a sex worker.

Alisha subsequently died.

The hospital now claims that the delay was due to complaints from other patients, and that the hospital was busy trying to find Alisha a private room. None of that explains why you wouldn’t immediately treat someone dying of multiple gunshot wounds.

Similar concerns have been voiced in the US about the spate of “religious freedom” bills that Republican lawmakers are pushing around the country. LGBT leaders fear that such legislation will be used by medical providers (doctors, emergency response employees) to deny medical service to gay and trans patients.

Unfortunately, there’s a history of local gang members harassing and attacking trans women in Pakistan. Like a similar problem I’ve reported on in Russia, gangs kidnap trans women, rape them, film the encounter, then try to extort money from them. In Russia, neo-Nazi gangs lure young gay men into alleged dates where they are brutalized and filmed, and money is sometimes extorted.

The local news reports that one suspect has now been arrested in Alisha’s murder.

Alisha’s death has made news around Pakistan, and now internationally. Her friends say that hers was the first public funeral of a transgender person in Pakistan. This appears to be Pakistan’s Matthew Shepard moment for its trans community. Hopefully something good can come of this tragedy.

Here’s coverage in a local language, but you can get the gist of it: Alisha’s death has changed things.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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