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Khawaja Siras: Just Living Life

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Finance officer at Khawaja Sira Society

Sobo Malik flashes a peace sign at the camera. She works as finance officer at Khawaja Sira Society. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Neeli Rana, field supervisor for Khawaja Sira Society

Sunny casually chats with Neeli Rana on a late summer afternoon in the Khawaja Sira Society office. Neeli Rana works as field supervisor for Khawaja Sira Society. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Jannat Ali shows off her new watch, an Eid gift from a khawaja sira close to her

Jannat Ali shows off her new watch, an Eid gift from a khawaja sira close to her. Eid-ul-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in Islam. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Khawaja siras gather in the drop-in center room for an Iftar party hosted by Khawaja Sira Society one evening during the holy month of Ramadan

Khawaja siras gather in the drop-in center room for an Iftar party hosted by Khawaja Sira Society one evening during the holy month of Ramadan. A couple hours remain until these Muslims open their fast together with food. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Khawaja Sira Society takes a few minutes away from work and offers visitors drinks

The kitchen assistant at Khawaja Sira Society takes a few minutes away from work to peer over at Lahore's lively street. She offers visitors drinks and makes them feel welcome. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Phlebotomist Shabhaz Roy in his office at Khawaja Sira Society administers free HIV/AIDS testing

Phlebotomist Shabhaz Roy in his office at Khawaja Sira Society administers free HIV/AIDS testing for khawaja siras. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Ashi Jan teaches Qur'an classes to children

Ashi Jan poses for the camera. Her proudest accomplishment is teaching Qur'an classes to children. She says, "The best thing in my life was this. I never thought I could teach Quran classes to someone. People don't accept me." Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Zakiyya wraps her dupatta (or scarf) over her head before her picture is taken. She works as the cook and chai (tea) girl at NAZ Pakistan, an organization to help Pakistan's LGBT youth

Zakiyya wraps her dupatta (or scarf) over her head before her picture is taken. She works as the cook and chai (tea) girl at NAZ Pakistan, an organization to help Pakistan's LGBT youth. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Zakiyya pours a drink in the kitchen of her rental living space

Zakiyya pours a drink in the kitchen of her rental living space. After acquiring her own place to rent, she saved up money to buy a bed and kitchenware. Next, she's thinking of paint the walls. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Billi poses in the mirror at Zakiyya's place after opening her fast. She is Zakiyya's beti (or daughter) in the khawaja sira kinship system

Billi poses in the mirror at Zakiyya's place after opening her fast. She is Zakiyya's beti (or daughter) in the khawaja sira kinship system. Billi is just about to walk over to the main road to do begging before it gets too late. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Neha is one of Zakiyya's chelas (or students) in the guru-chela system of hijra culture. She too, like Billi, is on her way out to beg for alms at a nearby busy street

Neha is one of Zakiyya's chelas (or students) in the guru-chela system of hijra culture. She too, like Billi, is on her way out to beg for alms at a nearby busy street. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

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Neeli and Zehrish glance in the mirror after returning from a television appearance

Neeli and Zehrish glance in the mirror after returning from a television appearance. Image by Ikra Javeed. Pakistan, 2016.

Being a khawaja sira in Pakistan certainly isn’t easy with all the stigma and other-ing associated with a gender non-conforming cultural identity. Here Ikra Javed introduces us to everyday lives of Pakistan’s khawaja siras. Beyond the begging, sex work, or colorful singing and dancing that many of them share, they each have their own story.

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