Gender identity in Pakistan

It is not about the SEX, but it is all about the sexes. Why Male and Female are not enough?
Last year in September, I started studying Gender Theory as an elective subject. In the very first lecture, our honourable professor Amatayakul Supakwadee who is originally from Thailand gave us some information about this course. Being an Asian born student, it was my first experience to listen her so bold on some topics. After my first class, I thought that it is just waste of time and I should select another course to study instead of Gender Theory, because it looked like a creepy subject at that time to me.

The next day, she talked and delivered something interesting material. When I returned back to hostel and checked community page to get some information about the material which the Professor has posted there, I was shocked to read The Five Sexes, Revisited, an article about the total sexes in the existing world. In addition, it was not a paradigm, but approved scientific theory. I never thought about the fourth sex in this world before.

I started reading this as a standard book, but every single line was full of new words and terms for me. First week, I spent just to get the meanings of the jargons used there.

As I read an article by Anne Fausto-Sterling “The Five Sexes”, he writes that in 1843, Levi Suydam, a twenty-three-year old resident of Salisbury, Connecticut, asked the town board of selectmen to validate his right to vote as a Whig in a hotly contested local election. The request raised a flurry of objections from the opposition party, for reasons that must be rare in the annals of American democracy: it was said that Suydam is more female than male and thus (some eighty years before suffrage was extended to woman) could not be allowed to cast a ballot. To settle the dispute a physician, William James Barry, was brought in to examine Suydam. Moreover, presumably upon encountering a phallus, the good doctor declared the prospective voter male. With Suydam safely in their column, the Whigs won the election by the majority of one.

After some time some changes occurred in the Suydam’s behaviour, attitude, and overall appearance. S/he had narrow shoulders and mostly female body structure. It was an intersexual change. Moreover, it is not clear whether Suydam lost or retained the vote, or whether the election results were reversed.

I have also studied about Herms, Ferms, and Merms. The other three categories beyond the biological division of male and female. In addition, all categories are scientifically proved. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) are not entitled to perform a reproduction process as male and female.

For some time medical investigators have recognized the concept of the intersexual body. But the standard medical literature uses the term intersex as a catch-all for three major subgroups with the same mixture of the male and female characteristics: the so-called true hermaphrodites, whom called herms, who possess one testes and one ovary (the sperm-and egg-producing vessels, or gonads); the male pseudo-hermaphrodites (the “merms”) who have testes and some aspects of the female genitalia but no ovaries; and the female pseudo-hermaphrodites (the ferms), who have ovaries and some aspects of the male genitalia but lack of testes. Each of those categories is in itself complex.

The turning point came in my studies when I read about the birth of the first man and woman of the world (Adam and Eve). It was a real interval in my studies of Gender Theory. Being a Muslim, it is my belief that Adam gave a birth to a female Eve, and then they started the process of reproduction and it will remain started until the last day of this world. In addition, Adam falls in the category of Hermaphrodites (Herms). According to Plato, there once were three sexes -male, female, and hermaphrodites, but the third sex was lost with time.

It is really a very long topic, and it will not cover in one writing, definitely, it will take me a very long while to make an end of this article.

Last week, I had my exams of Gender Theory, and I was much worried about the preparation of this. I am a bold person, but not always. I am also not feeling shy to speak up in front of the class.

With honorable Prof Amatayakul Supakwadee, it was our (all students) first experience to speak up in front of others students in real exams. Many students were feeling bit nervous, and shy to speak up about Gender, Sex, and Sexuality. Our exams started 9:05am on Thursday 17th January.

There were students from Canada, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France, and some of locals. Even though, there was a student from Belgium who was gay, and as he introduced his sexual identity, rest of the students started muttering and laughing. However, that student was completely in normal conditions. He explained his feelings, experience, and the reaction of the people from Milan. He said, in Belgium, we (with my boyfriend) kiss each other in open areas, but never faced bullying, but in Milan, once I was kissing to my boyfriend, all the people in that street were looking at us, and I think it is a negative approach.

My turn came up after 13:45. I took my lunch break at 13:15 after I performed my Zohar prayers.

In the beginning, I was bit confused, and feeling shy. But it was really a fantastic experience when honorable Prof Amatayakul Supakwadee asked me about the concept of five sexes in Pakistan, and she asked me about the jobs of Transgender in Pakistan, in addition, she asked me in which job sectors does the Transgender perform? After a small pause, she asked me Mumtaz, what would you like to write in your article about what you studied here?

It was really a very long question to answer in just few lines, because she had drafted the questionnaire for individuals.

I simply replied that there is not a concept of five sexes in Pakistan, but male, female, and Transgender. In addition, I said that I read about five sexes only here, and it is my first experience to talk boldly about sex. I added that in the history of Pakistan there is only one Transgender newscaster in a private TV news channel. Rest of the people from this category perform in “private” parties, wedding parties, and birthday parties to put a smile on the faces of the people. Some of them are being used by the pimps, or run their own mobile business in urban areas, streets, and in slums.

Talking about the public sector jobs, they are not eligible/entitled to join any religious, cleric job, police, armed forces, court, medical, driving, skilled jobs in factories, teaching, and all other departments. Even though peons. I made an argument, that because of the attributes of these people, there is a risk to spread the unhealthy activities in the society so no one wants to hire such people. Nevertheless, these people are the part of our society, and no one can deny this reality. She said it is injustice to those people, and look in the western societies, they do not feel ashamed, and they are playing a vital role in society.

I think these people will be every part of the world, but in Pakistan, we only know the attributes of male, female, and transgender. If there are other sex minorities, how can we identify them? Alternatively, they are scared of something or they have family and society pressure to reveal the truth? If someone is not showing up his/her sexual identity, s/he (They) will be exploited at social level if they do not show their identity.

We should respect such people, because the God ranks the binary order, and who are we to justify to the other humans in nominal, ordinal and interval measures?

The writer is a student of New Media (Social Media) and Media at IULM University Milan, Italy. In addition, he is the only Asian Pakistani/Kashmiri student in entire Europe who is studying Social Media in Europe. He is professional storywriter, scriptwriter, and storyteller. He can be reached at: He tweets: @mumtazkhyal

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