Transgender Rights – Journal – DAWN.COM
FOUR years after the epic and surprising (given our right-wing leanings) multiparty approval of a transgender law, right-wing forces are now saying it is un-Islamic. Labeling him anti-religious may be partly responsible for recent attacks on long-abused transgender people.
The law compares well overall to other laws but also has gaps, for example, on marriage, adoption, access to gender spaces, etc. Given local sensitivities, many activists ignore the shortcomings. But its critics now aim to erode it further by sowing confusion and lies about transgenderism.
Many confuse them with intersex people who have undefined reproductive organs. Some intersex people are transgender, but many adopt the sex given at birth. But transgender people often have clearly defined bodies but feel like another gender or none, like non-binary people. Many people accept intersex but not transgender. Scientific studies have shown that although these are not physical traits, their brains can resemble that of the desired sex at an early age. So they feel uncomfortable every second.
Science says it’s not a disease but it’s natural, and any treatment to force first intercourse can be harmful to body and mind. Many states ban these dodgy remedies and let them gain peace by changing sex via self-identification without physical checks or sex reassignment surgery. Considering the cost, confidentiality and risks, the option of surgery is left to those affected.
For many, the choice to change one’s gender identity, which has been considered forever fixed based on bodily traits, seems abnormal. But, again, research shows that these identity criteria may have evolved over time. Experts are now also focusing on brains. Thus, requests for organ checks ignore transgender brain variances. Also, persistent self-identity is a strong enough social test because their high abuse in most states, especially ours, makes it very risky to be one for fashion or fraud. Many even hide the desire for a long time, out of fear.
Some critics have triggered a wild panic that others can now ask to change their race, age, species, etc. But no science supports such options and such cases have not existed forever, unlike those related to transgender. A similar strong social test will also deter others from faking it. Some propagate absurd concerns that Pakistani women may misrepresent themselves as men for higher inheritance. But any woman doing so wrongly will be banished by her family and will have to divorce her if she is married. Even then, her family can refuse her and she must start a long and uncertain lawsuit. Pakistani women, who often do not even assert their real rights out of fear, cannot fraudulently take such a high risk. In the four years since the law was passed, we have not seen such cases.
Some critics have unleashed a wild panic over the law.
Its 2020 rules of procedure filled the gaps in the law. The law grants free choice when it comes to gender reassignment, and business rules must echo the laws of parents. In practice, transgender men and women get separate gender categories from the usual categories in Nadra databases. They and intersex people only get a catch-all “X” ID on state papers, though the law doesn’t say all that. All of this increases the bias.
Editorial: transgender identity
The questionable ‘X’ symbol is dehumanizing for not being based on a gender name, unlike ‘F’ and ‘M’. A few have changed sex between the two main genders via lengthy legal steps and sex surgery, instead of personal choice as per the 2018 law. Given local norms and fear of losing even earnings many activists are unaware of these shortcomings. Yet those who oppose the law now want even more bans, like physical checks to change identities and an end to self-choice. But that’s only for intersex people, who don’t always change identities despite having unclear reproductive organs. This ruling can completely kill the law for many transgender people who need it more as their identities change, often due to brain patterns. But many can fail organ tests given their clear birth organs without sex reassignment surgery. Those who oppose self-choice may even limit surgery to intersex cases.
Some say the law encourages same-sex relationships. But that may not be the case if the law legally allows a man to identify as a woman. It may also allay fears by improving access to sex reassignment surgery. Some base their opposition on their belief that religion prohibits states from changing gender by personal choice. But they do not give clear religious evidence and only express personal opinions. Transgender people suffer through no fault of their own and therefore deserve our support and respect. It is hoped that their partial rights to self-choice without physical testing will survive the anti-act campaign and that more rights will also accrue.
The author is a political economist with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Posted in Dawn, October 4, 2022