Ode to the third gender: The social ill that is us, the people!

By Seehum Rizwan.

The doctor was having a normal day; sick people swarming in, waiting in line outside his office, begging his assistant for priority. All of them had their own woes; all of them were in agony, physical and psychological. The Doctor was agitated, ushering in one patient at a time, looking at the clock, waiting for his escape. Suddenly, a ward boy came bustling in and informed him of an emergency; a person had been brought in, shot and wounded. The Doctor, frustrated as he was, got up from his seat, crossed the vermin outside his office (a few of them tried to grab the hem of his robe) and proceeded to the emergency.

To his utmost revulsion and shock; it was a eunuch. A shemale, a Hijra. He was nauseated. The Doctor turned on his heels; he could almost hear the blood dripping off the filthy creature. Trying to block the image out of his mind, he made his way back to the filthy but acceptably human pile of sickness.

He was informed, a few hours later, that the creature had died. Good riddance, he thought to himself. The story going around was that it was an activist of some sort and even had a name. He was told that “Alisha” was brought in after a man attacked..her, him? And after his refusal to treat the Hijra, other doctors were perplexed as to what ward it should be shifted to. The women protested when they placed it in the women ward, the other shemales protested when they placed it in the male ward. The Hijra had died as result of the confusion. Oh well..one less to deal with..

The transgender in question was Alisha, a Trans-Action Coordinator, who had died as a result of discriminatory medical negligence. Of the ills of this plagued society, there are few greater than gender discrimination. The most common misconception that follows is that women/ men are the victims of gender discrimination. Like every oppressive society in history, we refuse to accept the minority. We are repulsed by it, we revolt against it, and we refuse to accept its very tangible presence. The real victims of gender discrimination are the transgender community. Equally human, an equally functional faction of mankind has faced the worst form of barbarianism that this country and its oh-so-tolerant people have to offer.

Globally, one transgender person is murdered every three days. Pakistan is a heavy contributor to this pile. In KPK, transgender killings have seen a massive rise since the so-called liberation of these members of the community. Every other day, a transgender is raped/injured/humiliated/killed/abducted/sold. In Punjab, they are a night’s entertainment behind the dark walls of the formidable concept that is a Thaana. Police patrols pick them up on sheer muscle, force them to subjugation the whole night and throw them out at the crack of dawn. The rest of the country acts along similar lines.  These are hard facts/ bitter truths.

On paper, a three-member bench headed by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2012, the former CJ, passed the petition to accept transgender people as equally entitled members of the community. They were given the right to identity, the right to vote, the right to education, healthcare, employment and security. In reality, they were never given the right to acceptance.

They were pushed to the dark alleyways of the local red light areas, because the community had refused to give them jobs and any quality education. They live in agonizing anonymity and deprivation because they have been subjected to neglect and revulsion since their conception, when the sonogram reveals to the expectant parents that they have been sinful and hence God has punished them with the biggest disgrace there ever will be. Owing to the illegality of abortion, the parents keep the pregnancy in discretion and relieve themselves of the vermin as quickly as possible. They are left at doors, streets, garbage dumps, hospital enclosures, and sometimes, luckily for the infant, at the doorstep of a local Guru, who are the central paternal figures for a transgender household.

Behind the grimy walls of the transgender Chakla, there is a love-bound universe. They have a fraternity, a bond unlike any other, formed on the basis of the common rejection, neglect and uncalled-for hatred thrown their way by families. They live together, eat together, and laugh together at the little joys of life. They are immune to conventional sorrows.

Are we so blinded by our ideas of supremacy that we have refused to accept a human being, as a human being? Are we as unjust as the historical examples of oppressive nations that brought themselves to extinction due to their arrogance? Are we unwilling to embrace humanity unto ourselves? Are we ever going to stop cringing away at the sight of a eunuch?

The writer is an IBA graduate and a graphics designer hailing from Karachi.

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