The unnecessary queering of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
On November 14th, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to register votes for transgender people in Pakistan; they were allowed put down ‘other’ in the gender box on their national identity card.
Almas Bobi,commended the Chief Justice for recognizing them as human beings. This is the world that we live in, even being deemed to be a human being is praise worthy. However, the judgement might have made them human but they still seem to be less human than everyone else by most.
Besides probably knowing the name of 'Mehak' at Khada Market Karachi. How much does the average Pakistani know about gender and/or sexuality? If you know where you stand, how is this for a litmus test: what is the difference between 'transgender' and 'transsexual'?
The politics of these terms is such that they may not even neatly translate to explain the life experiences of people in Pakistan. They are western terms coined for a western audience, which is also moving towards deconstructing them. The term 'Queer' has found its way into the common lexicon to move away from the need of a strict categorization of one's identity as one or the either rather than accepting it's fluidity.
What are some of the terms used in Pakistan? 'Hijra', 'Khusra', 'Khadra', 'Chakka' or the more formal 'Khuwaja Siya'. None of these terms fall anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. Any attempts to find Pakistan on the spectrum may not prove to be fruitful either. Identity is not limited to merely gender or sexual orientation either. A poor queer person in Pakistan may have nothing in common with a rich queer person living a mile away. It would be an error in judgment to even think of hte Pakistani Queer community as a monolithic or homogenous group of people.
I do not wish to either, nor do I wish to assume what anybody's life experiences may be like. I wish to point out that all the aforementioned terms with the exception of the formal variety are all gender slurs; the use of them is completely antithetical to the Supreme Court ruling. They are dehumanizing but I doubt there will be any Suo Motos taken anytime soon for this particular contempt of court.
My newsfeed has been full of all these terms recently. However, they are not being used for anyone who self identifies himself with the community, which makes it doubly offensive. Not only are they offensive to BIlawal Bhutto but they dehumanize the transgender and/or transsexual community in Pakistan by using terms reserved for their life experiences as slurs against people.
It also illuminates the tacit value system in our society, which degrades femininity and by extension, the female. The equation of femininity with weakness is highly problematic.
The usage of these slurs and degradation of femininity are nothing short of sexual assaults. Whilst comfortably throwing these terms around with friends or sharing memes of Bilawal Bhutto you may not feel like you are committing a crime and I am not trying to say that doing so is equivalent to rape or murder but a perpetuation of such notions and ideas in society creates the environment that justifies sexual violence and general violence against women and the queer community.
Anybody who is 'queering' Bilawal Bhutto to make a political statement should be ashamed of themselves. Every single use of a gender slur in Pakistan is a push against the progression of consciousness around gender in the country.
Gender shaming, gender hating or gender slurs are based on an archaic understanding of gender, which totally dehumanizes the person and reduces the identity of that person to a single life experience.
It is shameful to see even the educated class in Pakistan engaging in such behaviour. You may give the ignorant the benefit of doubt based on their lack of knowledge but people who identify themselves as liberals and would for all intents and purposes be against any form of sexual assault freely use gender slurs without realizing the use of them also constitutes a sexual assault on a person and may be liable under the court of law.
If we continue to create an environment conducive for violence against women and the trans community by continuing to perpetuate the same ideas, should we really be surprised when we wake up to news about rapes, honour killings, murders, acid throwing and domestic violence everyday?
Think about the potential repercussions the next time you dehumanize someone with your words in the future. I am guilty of doing so myself in the past but I am trying to educate myself on the subject and I sincerely hope you will to. Thank You!