Transgender: Redefining Identities

By Zarlish Wazir.

Transgender, the most marginalized section of Pakistan had been facing identity crises for quite some time. A few days back a video of a transgender being treated barbarously and heinously by five men in Sialkot went viral all over social media. Finally, the media pressure pushed the officials to take some action against the culprits. That video left everyone with a couple of questions. Before taking into account their rights specified by the state, it is important to clarify; who is basically a transgender?

Medical Definition of a transgender: of, relating to, or being a person (as a transsexual or a transvestite) who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth. Our society divides people only into two groups; male or female, determining certain rules and regulations which the society expects them to follow. Such as: how to dress, how to talk how to behave etc. However, transgender breaks this straight division of only two sexes. They are not considered natural. Anything that contradicts the order of our society we refuse to acknowledge it and accept it. Due to which we have failed to accept their identities and provide them with their basic rights. The worst punishment one can ever have is the denial of his or her existence. This is how we treat the transgender community. Talking to them or having a relationship with them is considered as a taboo. They are no one to us. They are expected to do certain jobs only i.e. dancing at others wedding or ‘Mujras’ i.e. ‘Private parties’ or else begging for money or prostitution. In all those weddings where they are invited for only a handful of money, they are degraded and exploited both sexually and mentally. Moreover, the worst thing is they have accepted their identities as inferior and deserving for whatever the society throws at them. They are left with no choice other than to adopt any of these means to earn their livelihood.

Unfortunately, our media has also never been encouraging towards the transgender community; consistently presenting comic characters as transgenders in the talk shows to mock at them and to achieve higher TRP (Television Rating Point) is very discriminating. Very few directors and producers tend to deviate from the mainstream by showing the challenges faced by these communities. Such an effort was made by Shoaib Mansoor in his movie ‘BOL’ which was a terrific representation of one such family. Now a days a drama serial being aired on ARY named ‘Khuda Daikh Raha hai’ also deals with the similar theme.

Forget about societal rights even our state took so long in legislating their basic rights. In 2009 Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry along with other two bench members passed the order of seminal ruling, according to which they included the third gender of Transgender community in the CNICs in addition to male and female. In 2012, the court stated that they are equally entitled to all the rights as any other common citizen of Pakistan such as the right to inheritance, free education, and job prospects. Our constitution clearly states in Article 25 that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex”.

Furthermore, if we dig in the history, during the splendid era of The Mughals in India, transgender known also as Khwajasara’s had great respect. They were appointed for important jobs such for security or assistance. They were appointed particularly for the queens and princesses as they were allowed the access to their rooms. However, it was the British colonizers later, who came for the purpose of trade and changed everything in the name of their so-called purpose of making the eastern man civilized and educated. They introduced certain acts and laws as they were quite unsatisfied with the dignity given to the third gender. But the irony is today the western countries see themselves as the great advocate of Human rights, particularly of the transgender community.

For those who disguise themselves in the name of religion to criticize the existence of such communities must know that Islam being the religion of nature accepts their identities. Prophet Muhammad S.A.W always treated the transgender community with respect and dignity never in his life he insulted or degraded any human being on the basis of his or her sex. On the other hand, if we analyze ourselves,  who proudly proclaim ourselves to be Muslims, take pride in being normal and consider communities like the one mentioned earlier as inferiors. God has created everyone with a purpose and we should respect his creation.

The video which caught everyone’s attention is just one case; there might be thousands of them suffering from violence. No matter who you are: a male, female or any other gender, you have the complete right to your life. The state needs to make a hard and fast rule to protect their basic rights and needs to provide equal opportunities for them like other citizens of this country. Towards the end, I would like to share few lines from Kamala Das’s poem “Dance of the Eunuchs” in which she has fantabulously explored what it means to be a transgender.

It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came
To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals
Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling
Jingling… Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with
Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and
They dance, oh, they danced till they bled…

Writer is an English literature student and hails from Islamabad.

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