Let Them Live
We are truly blessed to have families and their respect and love, yet we always yearn for more. When we talk about gender inequality, we usually discuss only males and females with total disregard to the third gender referred to as hermaphrodites or transgenders.
When a baby (boy or girl) is born, parents celebrate, but when a hermaphrodite is born, parents moan and cry forgetting the fact that such child is also special. They either throw it away or give it to the khawajasara community. The question is, do people give up on babies who are born blind or deaf or have any physical abnormality? The answer is mostly “no”, rather we call them special and give them special treatment. Then why do we treat a baby with a genital anomaly like an animal of bad breed? Why can’t they be raised within their families? Are we questioning the creation of Allah Almighty?
What the Quran Says on the Matter
Allah says in the Quran:
“He is Who fashioneth you in the wombs as pleased Him. There is no Allah save Him, the Almighty, the Wise.”
– (3:6, Surah Aal-e-Imran, Ayat No 6)
“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what He wills. Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills male”.
– (42: 49-50, Surah Shura, Ayat No 49-50)
What Science Says on the Matter
Such an anomaly can also be treated like any other congenital anomaly. We simply lack awareness. The following has been mentioned in an article by Associate Professor Prof. Zeki Bayraktar (urologist) regarding what should be done if a baby is born with a genital anomaly:
“Those who appear to be intersex are actually male or female. But their sexes are not distinguished by looking at their genitals. It is needed to make chromosomal analysis and apply medical tests. If chromosome structure is 46XY then it’s male, if it is 46XX then it’s female. Once the sex is distinguished after chromosome analysis, necessary treatments (medication and/or operation) could be administered. However, a committee consisting of experts (urologist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, psychologist, etc.) can make the decision.”
A majority of intersex children can be distinguished by chromosome analysis. However, even though very limited in number, some may have a complicated chromosome structure (mosaic or chimera). They do not have a purely 46XY (male) or 46XX (female) structure, rather a mixed one like 45X/46XY or 46XX/46XY. Such patients may have both testicles and ovaries and thus it could be a problem to distinguish this group of patients. However, even in these mixed types, it is possible to decide according to chromosomes that form more than 50 percent of the structure, and such decision must be taken by an expert committee of relevant specialists, otherwise each human is usually either declared to be male or female even if born with congenital anomalies.
Is Pakistan Truly a Religious State?
When it comes to Pakistan, if a hermaphrodite wants to undergo surgery to completely transform into a male or female, he or she gets classified as a deviant. In fact, society is preventing him or her from becoming either a male or female and still decrying him or her for who he or she is. Even Iran permits sex reassignment operations for the sexually impaired.
Place In Society
In Pakistan, transgenders usually end up as dancers, sex workers or beggars. The only contact most Pakistanis have with any of the transgender people is at traffic signals where they beg for money. They get ridiculed at every stage of life, especially in childhood, which is one of the main reasons they are unable to get basic education. As a consequence of the same, they do not land respectable jobs. The government should make educational arrangements for them.
Our society segregates them to a level that they at times themselves join people like them just to find peace of mind. In an interview, Alizay, a transgender mentioned, “I was 14 when I figured out that I was a transgender, as my parents used to scold me for playing with dolls and doing other such things. When I, for the first time, met a transgender, I found the peace I was searching for. Then I decided to leave my house. I’m happy being with other transgenders, but there are many things people don’t realize about us and instead they abuse us. It’s hard to get a place to live in, or even to move about normally.”
Recognition Given By Law
In 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan recognized transgender people under a separate gender category on their National Identity Cards. The provincial governments were also asked to recognize them, register them, trace their families and have their inheritance rights granted accordingly. Transgenders also get a 2% quota in jobs.
The above ruling has been a good step but the realities still remain dark for transgenders. They are asked to present a medical certificate to prove their gender. This is not usually the case with cisgender men or women. Transgenders usually give the names of their gurus as they are the ones who take care of them when their real parents abandon them.
The judicial panel also discussed the viability of a separate prison for transgenders and strictly warned the police against harassment. Currently, they are kept in the male prisons with men and one can imagine the kind of mockery they must face. In any civilized state, men and women are kept in separate prisons. The same reasoning should apply to transgenders.
Share in Property
Hermaphrodites get the smaller of the two shares, which is usually the share of a female. For instance, if a male leaves behind a son, a daughter and a hermaphrodite, the hermaphrodite gets the same share as that of a daughter.[i]
Like most of us, the transgender community also follows religion. Most of them in Pakistan are Muslims.
Their burial after death is also not different from the rest of us. It is done in accordance with their religion and, for examle, if “x” died and had more male dominant characteristics and was a Muslim, then a molvi will be called to offer his funeral prayers in the same manner as that of a Muslim male and vice versa for those more dominantly female.
Between 1.7 and 4% of the world population is born with intersex conditions, having primary and secondary sexual characteristics that are neither clearly male nor female.[ii] This is a significant number, therefore, transgender people should have a place in policymaking and Parliament so that their interests can be represented adequately and their rights implemented. We should collectively as a nation respect their existence and let them live, just like us.
[i] Egyptian and Kuwaiti Personal Status Laws, Articles 46 & 334.
[ii] AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LAW AND MEDICINE, Volume 30, Number 1: Pages 41-68, Summer 2004.
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