Academic and activist Dr Mehrub Moiz Awan decries transphobia after being removed from TEDxISL speaker roster

Academic and activist Dr Mehrub Moiz Awan decries transphobia after being removed from TEDxISL speaker roster

The International School Lahore said, in a letter, that some parents had issues with portraying Dr Awan as a "role model to impressionable children".
17 Aug, 2022

Transgender rights activist Dr Mehrub Moiz Awan (whose pronouns are she/her) has been excluded from a TEDxISL (International School Lahore) panel in a move the activist has decried as transphobia.

“As visibility increases, so does violence. And the hegemonic always use moral policing to gatekeep alternative voices and opinions. It’s happened before; it’ll happen again. That’s the cycle of struggle for redistribution of power,” Awan captioned a post discussing the matter.

She also took to Instagram stories to break it down for her followers. Re-sharing a photo with her featured as guest speaker in the talk, she hid her face with a red banner, calling out the censorship.

She explained that though her talk was approved and meets the rules and regulations, she was told that “some parents” have an issue with her being transgender.

The activist called on the other speakers to stand with her in solidarity and boycott the talk. “Enough is enough,” she said, bringing attention to the transgender genocide in Pakistan and the continual transphobia and dismissal.

She made her talk public and attached the link for her followers.

In a tweet, Awan voiced her suspicion that seems to point to the senior management of the school instead of the parents having issues with her.

She shared a legal document and circled the laws ISL has broken by discriminating against a member of the transgender community.

Actor Ushna Shah called ISL’s behaviour “pathetic” and hoped “the other speakers walk out”.

ISL’s letter to Dr Awan

ISL shared with Images the “formal letter of regret” they sent Awan on August 17. Apologising for the “inconvenience caused”, the school representative said they were “confronted” by a section of their parent body upset by the views the activist has previously expressed on “usage/legalisation of drugs, homosexuality and differing interpretations of religious conjunctions along with very often explicit use of language”.

Recognising Awan’s efforts to “comply with etiquettes expected in the environment and talk with minors”, they believed it would be “against the value system of ISL” to portray her as “a role model to impressionable children against the wishes of a responsive and cooperative parent body”.

Suggesting future plans to invite the activist to talk about issues faced by the transgender community to “a mature audience of parents, teachers and legal aged students”, the representative clarified that the rescinding of the invitation has no connection with her “transgender identity or activism”. They reiterated that it was linked to Awan’s “controversial views” that “remain unsuitable for gullible minors and students”.

Maria B vs Dr Mehrub Moiz Awan

Maria B stands with ISL

Designer Maria B (short for Butt) shared a screenshot of the academic’s Twitter thread, mapping the series of events, on her Instagram story and praised ISL for its decision. She revealed her kids go to the school and said the parents will decide who their role models will be.

Butt has checked out one of Awan’s live sessions and felt that the language she used was “inappropriate” and “abusive”. She feels like the activist is not worthy of being a “role model” for her kids and questioned her achievements.

The designer also made transphobic comments, separating Awan from the khwajasira community, labelling her “genderless”. She also said Pakistani people have “misconceptions” about who qualifies as khwajasira, making the term “synonymous with hermaphrodite”.

Dr Mehrub Moiz Awan asks for a legal ‘conversation’

Awan took to her Instagram stories to clap back at Butt. “So I just realised that Maria B the designer has been posting disinformation about me and saying that I do not belong to the khwajasira community and the term that should be used for me is hermaphrodite which is, by the way, incorrect.

“First of all, let me educate you Maria B, open up Pakistan’s Transgender Persons Protection Act 2018, number one. Number two, we all know your brand is failing which is why you feel compelled to perform such stunts and your children also go to ISL whose mindset you’re so, uff Allah, concerned about,” she said.

The activist directed the designer to first take a look at the law and look up the definition of transgender. “And perhaps if you still want to continue spreading disinformation, my lawyer and your lawyer can have a great conversation. How do you feel about that?” she concluded.

Awan shared several more photos of legal documents to back up her point.

She addressed Butt once more on her story saying she feels bad for her children having to “endure a classist parent” and brought up a recent scandal of hers. The activist claimed that Butt’s transphobic behaviour was just an attempt to keep her brand relevant.

Awan told Butt she had only exposed herself whilst the “brainwashed bigots” supporting ISL have established a new brand image. She also revealed that four of the speakers have already walked out and she has only benefited from the exclusion.

She posted one last story sarcastically asking ISL to make Butt a teacher at the school so everyone can be blessed with “such impeccable knowledge” about the “latest gender concepts”.


Furrukh Rao Aug 17, 2022 04:36pm
Who cares.
Sana Aug 17, 2022 06:00pm
Queer should be treated as queer, not normal. We should not in any anyway deny trans people form theiir rights. But trans is not normal by any definition.
Ahmed Aug 17, 2022 06:13pm
How is he an academic? Secondly, according to our morality, which is also the morality of the majority, what he's doing is wrong. He's a man.
New Aug 17, 2022 06:19pm
Stop making this about transgender. I don't hate them or fear them. But you aren't one. You yourself have been brainwashed into believing something that isn't true. He shouldn't be called on any event. Being trans has nothing to do with it
Haider Aug 17, 2022 06:31pm
There is a difference between people bring with natural defect and Men/Women willingly changing their sex. I wonder if we will jump into burning coal if the white people make it a practice.
Aman Aug 17, 2022 06:51pm
This is highly discriminatory, unfair and unjust to treat her or even judge her being trans. Very sad state of affair for people in unique situations.
abdul rahman Aug 17, 2022 07:55pm
dr. awan shouldn't be speaking to little kids, i agree. his social media is full of thirst traps, and his twitter handle is literally 'too much information talks', as in some of his posts are too adult for kids. i mean, all power to him, but his social media spaces aren't pg-13.
Bunny Aug 17, 2022 08:21pm
nice to see these things come out in the open. our society has progressed a great deal in the last few decades. we are more tolerating more open more understanding today.
anonymouse Persone Aug 17, 2022 08:26pm
Maria B is spot on. So what if it is illegal, the public doesn't support open displays of transgender behavior. They are just confused between the intersex and transgender terms, nobody in Pakistan supports trans publicity. Like all societies, there is a public code of conduct here. Expressing sexuality publicly is not a part of it.
Faisal Salman Aug 17, 2022 09:02pm
Some articles need not to be published to safeguard the sanctity of a reasonable society but we want to bring everything on media.
Faisal Salman Aug 17, 2022 09:06pm
Being born with disabilities is not a crime but modifying a male to a female and vice versa surely is. Playing with the nature has consequences. We have enough already so we should avoid importing another disease to ruin our generations.
Fawad Aug 17, 2022 09:25pm
Children can not be exposed to everything, so good.
Ibrahim S Aug 18, 2022 05:08am
Deep in your heart , you know it’s wrong . Denial doesn’t change the reality on the ground .
Ma Aug 18, 2022 06:05am
The rights of the transgenders must be protected. They should be given equal rights too when it comes to education, employment and participation in society. Bit face it, our society is not ready to have them as role models. Lets take baby steps, let such role models are produced organically. They shouldn’t be imposed on a society which mostly see transgenders as lesser human being
Danish Amin Aug 18, 2022 06:48am
Not surprising at all on her treatment, Pakistanis aren’t known for how they treat those different from themselves
Ali Mansoor Aug 18, 2022 09:09am
He is entitled to have his own views but he must keep them to himself. As a parent I fully support ISL stance.
Alishba Aug 18, 2022 09:51am
@Sana its so sad u consider them abnormal. Dont forget there are 3 genders all different but normal