8 Basic Things Every Pakistani Should Know About Transgender People

8 Basic Things Every Pakistani Should Know About Transgender People

Their stories are regularly distorted by the media, their executioners are seldom found, and never brought to justice, they are writers, artists, vocalists, waiters, chefs and much more than that, they are humans with feelings, souls and brains. But, their cruelly violated dead bodies are never different from each other —they echo the same brutality and hatred which society holds against them.

We call them, Transgenders—but they are one of us. We hardly encourage those among us who have the sufficient awareness that being a Transgender doesn't mean belonging to a third gender. The notion is important because it is the root cause of all the abuse, harassment and hatred against them.

Generally, all of us are good at heart and we mean no harm to others. Yet, when it comes to having a conversation, raising or befriending a transgender, most of us are clueless or we end up hurting their sentiments unintentionally. Somehow, we become a contributor to the aforementioned hatred, harassment and abuse against transgender community.
'International Transgender Day of Remembrance' is celebrated on 20th November every year, with a spirits to eradicate hatred and raise awareness regarding Transgenders. Few of the important aspects of this day are:

1- Why do we hold International Transgender Day of Remembrance?

It all started after the gruesome murder of Rita Hester, a transgender from Boston. November 20th is the day of mourning for transgender community as they remember Rita Hester and the hatred against Transgenders on this day. Rita was brutally murdered on November 28th, 1998 and as expected, her killer was never brought to justice. She was never taken seriously. Since, 1999, November 20th marks an observance of International Transgender Day.

2- What do we mean by "Transgender" ?

Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

According to American Psychological Association, Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. They can relate to the opposite sex organs but not their own.

3- Do you need medical procedures to call yourself a Transgender?

Surgical procedures are a part of being a transgender. However, they aren't mandatory. For instance, a man who never identified with his sexual organs and gender expression but with female sexual organs and feminine gender expression, would still remain a transgender even if he never goes under the knife for any procedures. Also, it will be offensive to use the pronoun "Him" unless the person allows for it.

4- Is it okay to ask transgender person whether or not they have gone through a surgical procedure or medical treatment?

Is it okay to ask about the size and shape of your fellow's sex organs when you don't have an intimate friendship with them?. No. It's not okay to ask this question from a transgender person, unless they really want to talk about it.
By asking this question, you are indirectly asking them to validate what they truly feel as a specific gender. So, it's not ok.

“It is offensive that so many people feel that it is okay to publicly refer to transsexuals as being “pre-op” or “post-op” when it would so clearly be degrading and demeaning to regularly describe all boys and men as being either “circumcised” or “uncircumcised.”
― Julia Serano

5- Types of Transgender people?

There are many types we need to know about. However, the basics include:

Female to Male FTM/F2M : a person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (female sexual organs). These are also known as, Trans Men.

Male to Female or MTF/M2F: a person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (male sexual organs). Also known as, Trans Women.

Transsexual : When the person goes through a sex change operation or medical therapy. As mentioned in both cases above.

Genderqueer: (1) an umbrella term used to depict individuals whose sexual orientation falls outside of the gender binary; (2) a person who recognizes self as both a male and female or none. Some gender queers don't identify themselves as transgender though.

Transvestite: a person who dresses as a member of opposite binary gender ("cross-dresses") for any of numerous reasons, including unwinding, fun, and sexual satisfaction; frequently called a "cross-dresser," and regularly mistook for "transsexual" -

6- Is there a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?

Sexual orientation is simply our sexual and romantic inclinations combined for men, women or both. A pan-sexual would be a person whose sexual and romantic inclinations would be combined for men, women, hermaphrodites or any other possible form of gender and sexual identity. Bisexual and heterosexuals are other forms of sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation is simply our sexual and romantic inclinations combined for men, women or both. A pan-sexual would be a person whose sexual and romantic inclinations would be combined for men, women, hermaphrodites or any other possible form of gender and sexual identity. Bisexual and heterosexuals are other forms of sexual orientation.

Gender identity on other hand, is the extent to which you identify with your sexual anatomy and act according to societal expectations from that particular sexual anatomy. A person born with female sex organs could identify herself or feel and function like a female, the same person may feel and function like a man despite of the female sexual organs, or the same person can not identify with any of the genders. In any case, it would be that person's gender identity.

A transgender person can be a homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or pan-sexual, depending upon the sexual orientation preferred. Being a transgender would be gender identity for that person.

7- Is being transgender a mental disorder?

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-5, a mental disorder causes significant stress, disturbs professional, academic and personal life. Most of the transgender people do not experience such kind of distress, so they won't be really diagnosed as having a mental disorder. The manual describe the condition as "Gender Dysphoria" which literally means a confusion and feeling of incongruence with one's assigned sex. However, American Psychological association maintains that the diagnosis persists from the point of care, as societal discrimination, violence against Transgenders, harassment and bullying causes them a lot of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.
So, it's not a disorder but yes, they are prone and vulnerable to mental disorders because of the hatred, abuse and discrimination they go through. lack of resources, opportunities and tolerance for transgenders makes it hard for a transgender to live a normal life in our society.

8- How can we benefit the Transgender community?

Raising and gaining awareness is the key. By becoming an ally for them, we can reduce the factors which contribute to higher murders and suicide rates among them—bullying, discrimination, shaming etc.

Using pronouns or names that are preferred by the transgender person, as this often causes confusion on our part. If in doubt, asking is always better than assuming.

Familiarising ourselves and others with local, provincial and international laws which protect the rights of transgender community. Also, knowing that transphobia and Trans-misogyny exists, would help to stop and spot it.

"When the Majority of jokes made at the expense of trans people center on "men wearing dresses" or "men who want their penises cut off" that is not transphobia- it is trans-misogyny. When the majority of violence and sexual assaults omitted against trans people is directed at trans women, that is not transphobia- it is trans-misogyny.”
-Julia Serano

Zaufishan Qureshi

Zaufishan Qureshi

The writer is a psychologist and freelance writer for Psychology Tomorrow Magazine (USA). She is currently running her own consultancy that provides services related to psychosocial betterment of our society.


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