Pakistani hijra/khwaja siras make up structured communities of feminine-identified gender-variant persons who have long but marginalized traditions of performing religious-cultural roles. Supreme Court rulings in 2009, promising rights to marginalized khwaja siras, have led to increased backlash against these performances and the community structures on which they rest. This article explores these traditional performance practices, within the Sufi shrine and in homes, as well as in explicit activism as khwaja siras contested their place in the national 2013 elections. These assertions of piety, drawn creatively from Sufi and Shi'a modes and often performed on the fringes or lower rungs of developmental activism, offer an embodied outlet for negotiating multiple axes of exclusion. While recent scholarship has claimed that in the context of reformist Islamic movements khwaja siras are turning away from the spaces of legitimacy that Sufism once offered and toward the liberal language of human rights to make claims for recognition, the author argues that these pious performances continue to provide a potent force for transgender activism in Pakistan.

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