Pakistan’s Transgender Act & its opponents

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10/24/2022

Eunuchs, or “Khawaja Sira” as they were known, were the most dependable royal aides during the Mughal Empire. They commanded a great deal of respect and had even amassed considerable money in certain cases. They were mostly employed as harem stewards, while some became army generals, royal professors, and court consultants. Their power diminished with the fall of the Mughal Empire and the rise of the British. The colonial authorities adopted the “Criminal Tribes Act (CTC)” in 1871, under which Eunuchs had to be registered. Victorian-era English brought into Hindustan their deep-seated suspicions of sodomy, castration, and abduction. Under the CTC, wearing female clothing was a punishable act for men. Moreover, the CTC outlawed “all persons of the male sex who admitted themselves to be “impotent” or were found so on medical examination. The principal source of eunuchs’ income and all of their privileges were thus taken away by colonial rule. They became more socially isolated and impoverished. Man and woman were just two sexes in the Christian world of English colonizers. Historians claim that the British intended to eliminate the Hijras as a distinct sociocultural group and gender identity. Most Hindustanis accepted the colonial power’s philosophy that became the societal norm. Religious leaders and mullahs of today are opposed to changes that protect the rights of the Hijra or “transgenders” without realizing that they are merely defending a colonial heritage.

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