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Here’s why Being a Transgender is the biggest regret in Pakistan

In a recent incident in Pakistan, Alisha, a transgender woman was succumbed to her injuries after the hospital staffs delayed the treatment by arguing whether to shift her to male ward or female ward.

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  • Pakistan still does not have a proper law for the transgenders
  • Indian law has accepted the presence of a third gender as of 2012
  • USA is considered as the best country for transgenders to live

Even today in Asian countries like Pakistan and India transgender people go through a lot abuse and oppression. They are always picked upon and even though society has recognised their presence but still people perceive them badly.

https://youtu.be/oe4EW0h4mcs

But Indian law has accepted the presence of a third gender as of 2012 , according to that everybody is equal before law and  one has right to choose their gender identity and cannot be discriminated  on the basis of gender.

Pakistan still has no law for their fellow transgender people or widely known as ‘khawaja sara’ in their region. Pakistan still follows the law created during 1860s by the British Raj, after independence in 1947 they changed its name to Pakistan penal code and has not made any changes in law regarding LGBT. Though Supreme Court in 2009 ordered the government to issue an identity card which has a ‘third gender’ category for its non-binary citizens.

Firdos a Khawaja sara from the Pak says that her life as transgender was very difficult from the start. At the age of seven she was robbed of her innocence and since then has been toyed many people to fulfil their desires. Even the son who she adopted and gave all the love of world felt ashamed of her after becoming old and severed all ties with her.  Imagine the magnitude of pain she must have felt.

Life had reduced a graduate to beg for survival. Yes, Firdos has a degree. Her latest occupation became to educate her two grandsons that her son had abandoned. She is currently focused on educating them and freeing them from the poverty that has dictated her life.

Firdos’ story is just one of many and To help these type people Dr Saima, Khawaja sara  has launched a project Khawaja Sara rehabilitation program which aims lift people like firdos from the bottom the society .

According to the research by Dr Saima most khawaja saras begin to regret their birth as a single biggest mistake of their life which is very sad. But Many in Pakistan call Khawaja Sara’ s to their marriages , naming ceremony  as  they believe  Khawaja sara’s have power of  blessing and what they say becomes true. This belief is also present in some parts of India.

In a recent incident in Pakistan, Alisha, a transgender woman was succumbed to her injuries after the hospital staffs delayed the treatment by arguing whether to shift her to male ward or female ward. The 23-year-old was a trans activist in the city of Peshawar and was shot seven times on May 22.

Alisha_insert_courtesy_Neengar_Society
Alisha, a transgender woman who was shot in Pakistan, succumbed to her injuries on May 25, 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Neengar Society) Washington Post

According to Washingtonblade.com reports- Last week, Muhammad Falak, president of the Neengar Society, a group that advocates for marginalized Pakistanis said to the news portal in an email that Alisha was shot six times by a man who raped her and “tried to kill her.”

While the scenario is a bit different in America. Today USA is considered as country which provides most benefits to its fellow transgender people. America has also created separate washrooms named as all gender where transgender can go. This step was taken to reduce the discrimination and abuse from the general people as washroom is a place where generally transgender people are abused and made them feel ashamed.

Countries like Germany, New Zealand, and Australia have always welcome transgender and countries like Argentina, Malta, Denmark, Columbia, Ireland and Vietnam have started to recognise transgender as third gender in their constitution. Slowly but steadily many countries will follow the footstep of these.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha

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  • Pritam Go Green

    In India conditions are much better than that of Pakistan. If one is not even identified by law then what defines his/her existence in the country. Pakistan should treat them as a third gender.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Pakistan needs to make laws which protect their citizens. As it is Pak has a very bad habit of discouraging women and keeping them tied in all circumstances. There should be proper laws for third genders

  • devika todi

    USA has set itself as a standard in this matter. Pakistan should follow in its footsteps so that the transgenders do not face discrimination. I believe this is the discrimination of the worst kind and it should be stopped immediately.

SHARE
  • Pritam Go Green

    In India conditions are much better than that of Pakistan. If one is not even identified by law then what defines his/her existence in the country. Pakistan should treat them as a third gender.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Pakistan needs to make laws which protect their citizens. As it is Pak has a very bad habit of discouraging women and keeping them tied in all circumstances. There should be proper laws for third genders

  • devika todi

    USA has set itself as a standard in this matter. Pakistan should follow in its footsteps so that the transgenders do not face discrimination. I believe this is the discrimination of the worst kind and it should be stopped immediately.

Next Story

You’re Not Two-Spirit Unless You Are Familiar With Your Traditions

Two-spirit is a pan-Indian term

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L to R: Vicki Quintero (White Mountain Apache), Timothy
L to R: Vicki Quintero (White Mountain Apache), Timothy "Twix" Ward, San Carlos Apache, and Vanessa Kristina (Salt River Pima), who all identify as two-spirited. VOA

Growing up, Timothy “Twix” Ward, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, thought he was “normal.” But his family recognized there was something “special” about him.

“It wasn’t until I got older that I knew who I was, that I was different from everyone else,” he said. Ward identifies not as a man or a woman, but both — and neither: Twix Ward is a Two-Spirit.

The term was first devised in Winnipeg, Canada, during a 1990 inter-tribal conference of Native American/First Nations gays and lesbians. Derived from the Ojibwe language, the term was deliberately chosen to serve as a “pan-Indian” term encompassing indigenous people who don’t fit into any normative gender role.

“Two-spirited people are not LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Gender Queer], although some two-spirited people are LGBTQ,” said Ward, narrowing the definition. “You’re not two-spirit unless you are familiar with your cultural identity and your traditions.”

Shown is Timothy "Twix" Ward, San Carlos Apache two spirit, who specializes in the traditional craft of basket weaving.
Shown is Timothy “Twix” Ward, San Carlos Apache two spirit, who specializes in the traditional craft of basket weaving. VOA

Ward lives year-round in a traditional Apache house. He participates in traditional ceremonies. He is also a basket weaver and seamstress, specializing in basketry and making dresses for young Navajo women’s coming-of-age ceremonies.

“I try to teach the girls what the dress is for, the meaning behind it in their ceremony,” Ward said.

But not everyone in the community accepts him, and he admits to loneliness.

“I still carry the traditional [two-spirit] face markings, the traditional attire,” he said. “Some people that claim to be traditional are upset with me because they think I’m acting like I know more than them.”

A ca. 1886 photograph of We'wha (Zuni, N.M.), a famous lhamana (“like a woman"), the traditional Zuni gender role now described as two spirit. Courtesy: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - 523798
A ca. 1886 photograph of We’wha (Zuni, N.M.), a famous lhamana (“like a woman”), the traditional Zuni gender role now described as two spirit. Courtesy: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration – 523798. VOA

This year, the tribal council blocked him from using their facilities to hold a second annual “Miss Apache Diva” beauty contest.

Balancing the male and female

Thirteen hundred miles away in South Dakota, Kellie Bingen also identifies as a two-spirit bisexual. Born on the Lower Brule Reservation, she now lives in Sioux Falls, which makes her an “urban Indian,” serving on the board of the Sioux Falls Two Spirit and Allies group.

“Two-spirits are people who can balance both their male and their female sides,” she said. “I’ve been a ‘tomboy’ my whole life. Dad taught us girls to do anything that a man can do, so we learned how to install sheetrock and to roof, and to fix our own cars.”

But she said she still has a “girlie” side. “I can wear heels and a dress, put makeup on, and go out and be pretty.”

Like Ward, Bingen believes only Natives who are in touch with their traditions can claim two-spirit identity — and the term should never be co-opted by non-Natives.

New York City musician and activist Tony Enos offers a slightly different interpretation.

“Two-spirit is a pan-Indian term for Native people who identify as gender queer, gender non-conforming, gender fluid,” he said.

Born to a biracial family and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he identifies as two-spirit based on paternal Cherokee ancestry.

This October 2017 photo shows Tony Enos during protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline held near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota
This October 2017 photo shows Tony Enos during protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline held near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, VOA

“Before colonization, we were balance-keepers. We were the only ones that could move between the men’s and women’s camps. There was a special role for these gender queer, gender fluid, gender non-conforming tribal individuals who had this special medicine, this blessing to be able to see life through male and female eyes.”

And that’s what the two-spirit movement is all about, he said — reclaiming the special role two-spirits held in pre-colonial tribal societies.

But is that even possible?

Decolonizing the ‘berdache’

"Employments of the Hermaphrodites," an engraving published by Theodor de Bry (1591), after a watercolor by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, in what is today Florida. In some tribal cultures, two spirits cared for the sick and buried the dead.
“Employments of the Hermaphrodites,” an engraving published by Theodor de Bry (1591), after a watercolor by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, in what is today Florida. In some tribal cultures, two spirits cared for the sick and buried the dead. VOA

Much of what is known about historic two-spirits comes from accounts written by Western missionaries, adventurers and ethnographers, who referred to anyone who deviated gender norms by the derogatory term “berdache,” derived from the Arabic for slaves or kept boys.

Tribes had their own terms for third (if men) and forth (if women) genders — “like a girl,” “manly-hearted woman,“ “both man and woman,” “fake,” “supernatural” or “instructed by the moon.”

In some tribes, two-spirits were considered sacred and were honored as healers, seers, name-givers, or in the case of the Yokuts and Mono of California, gravediggers, as they were believed to be guided by the dead.

“But not all tribes honored them,” said Wesley K. Thomas, a Navajo anthropologist, professor and graduate dean of the Navajo Technical University School of Graduate Studies and Research. He believes two-spirits tended to be honored only in matrilineal tribes like the Navajo, where descendancy is traced from the mother’s line.

In other tribes, they were merely tolerated.

“There were even some patrilineal tribal societies who committed infanticide of such children [early on] or later in life,” he said.

George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance to the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.
George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance to the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.
VOA

Whatever their status, the subjugation and Christianization of Indians by Europeans ensured that two-spirits were stamped out.

“As the country is gradually being filled with the Missions, these detestable people will be eradicated and that this most abominable of vices will be exterminated,” wrote Spanish missionary to California Francisco Palou in 1777.

By the mid-20th century, gay Native Americans, facing homophobia and ostracism within their own communities, began to flock to urban centers for safe haven.

“But there, they found themselves marginalized by non-Native LGBTQ communities,” said Thomas. Hence the need to name themselves.

Thomas isn’t critical of the two-spirit movement, which in his words “gives them a sense of belonging, of identity, self-affirmation.”

That said, Thomas doesn’t believe they will ever recover any honor given to them in the past.

San Francisco, California's two spirit contingent marches at the San Francisco Pride parade, June 2014.
San Francisco, California’s two spirit contingent marches at the San Francisco Pride parade, June 2014.
VOA

Also read: LGBT activists in London call for decriminalisation of homosexuality

“It’s not possible,” he said. “We have been distanced too much from our traditional ways and cultures.” (VOA)