Pakistani Young Influencer reflects on her IVLP and Pride

Aradhiya (2nd from right) and other Pakistani Young Influencers at the U.S. State Department with Program Officer Carlos Aranaga


In the Fall of 2019, Ms. Aradhiya Khan participated in an IVLP project with a group from Pakistan focused on Young Influencers. At the time, she worked with the Akhuwat Foundation promoting the social and economic inclusion of the transgender community. In addition, Ms. Khan has actively pursued legislation on a transgender protection bill in the Sindh Provincial Assembly. Below, she reflects on her IVLP experience and Pride. 

What is an accomplishment you would like to highlight from your IVLP experience? 

As part of the 2019 Young Influencers IVLP project, I attended various interesting meetings, discussions, and field visits during the three-week program. After my IVLP experience, my then organization developed a few projects that focused on promoting social inclusion and economic empowerment of the transgender community based in Karachi, Pakistan. Since completing my IVLP project, I received the “Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah & Benazir Bhutto Award 2020” by the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, the “25under25” award by the Little Art Organization Lahore for being a prominent representative of transgender youth. When the pandemic hit Pakistan, I began actively campaigning for COVID-19 relief by arranging food, medical supplies, and financial aid for the transgender community.  

Last year on Human Rights Day, I was a featured panelist along with other prominent colleagues in Pakistani civil society. Though I was specifically told not to mention queer folk, I did what I believed was the right thing to do. I commented that we talk about human rights for some but simultaneously ignore the rampant abuse that exists for many in our society, including queer people. A weight lifted off my shoulders and was surprised to see several queer youths come to me to hug and say thank you for standing up for them too. This event and its aftermath highlighted my responsibility for the people in my community. 

“Every person felt like they didn’t belong, or at some point felt like they didn’t need to carry on, they weren’t needed. So, I think it’s important to show each other, “Look, we’re all in this together, we all feel this way, let’s work together.”

Cole LedfordLGBTQ activist, speaker, and social media influencer  

What major takeaway from your IVLP experience has most affected your work or your organization? 

Aradhiya and fellow IVLP participants volunteering with SOLVE in Portland, Oregon

The IVLP program allowed me to spread my wings and learn from the different experiences and cultures I was exposed to in the United States.  

What resonated most was seeing the operations, organization, strategies, communities, struggles, and intersectionality of other community organizers, organizations, and professionals I came across. Their work was so inspirational that I am utilizing their framework in my own work here in Pakistan to create a secure and resilient future for my community. 

I’m currently working with a prestigious corporate organization as a Human Resources Assistant. I’m also engaged with a few non-profit organizations at a voluntary level and as a technical consultant. I continue to be an advocate for the rights of all genders and sexual minorities and speak at universities where I share my experience with students and encourage them to follow the same path for change. 


3. What does Pride mean to you?


Pride is the love from my mom after my transition. One day she went shopping and bought feminine clothing and makeup for me. I had tears of happiness in my eyes when I saw what she did. 


Pride is the support and love I feel from my transgender sisters and Guru, who are my family away from my home. 


Pride is guidance and mentorship when I first came out to my older brother, who has supported me through my transition journey. 


Pride is the emotional bond for my queer and transgender friends, who I am very protective about.  


History | Community | Intersectionality | Acceptance | Progress | Resilience | Kindness | Love 

 Pride means THIS IS WHO I AM!”


Twitter: @AradhiyaKhan4

Instagram: @aradhiya_khan21