KARACHI: Two transgender rights activists were denied flying by a foreign airline due to their ‘x’ gender on Friday.

Shahzadi Rai and Zehrish, the two transgender rights activists at the Gender Interactive Alliance, got their air tickets cancelled by Flydubai when they were about to take the flight to Kathmandu via the United Arab Emirates for their annual meeting there.

Soon after, Shahzadi Rai took to social media to highlight the issue, which took place at Karachi Airport.

“Transgender persons are part of the mainstream in other countries but Flydubai don’t allow x-gender cards for travelling, which is transphobic behaviour by the airline. If they don’t allow travel on their planes then why even issue us tickets,” Shahzadi questioned while sharing her ticket issued by the airline.

“Shame on Flydubai for not letting khwaja siras fly on their airlines,” said another transgender who goes by the Twitter handle of @sanakhusri.

Yet another transgender activist, Hina Baloch who goes by the handle of @surkhina on Twitter said: “Today ShahzadiRai was barred from boarding flydubai flight KHI-DXB-KTM. This is hijraphobia and we urge the Pakistan Foreign Office to look into this matter ASAP.”

It was only an hour before the incident where the transgender activists’ tickets were cancelled that Shahzadi Rai had posted a happy photo of herself at the airport with the caption: ‘The goal is to die with memories, not dreams.’ Sadly this dream of travelling by air turned into a bad memory.

The airline in question, Flydubai, did not make any statement to the media regarding the incident until going to print.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2023

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