The Story of a Transman Fom Pakistan Working in UAE, Where Being Transgender Gets you Jailed or Deported

Will this society permit them to bloom and acknowledge what they were intended to be? On the other hand, will they always be considered transgressors who deserted their female bodies in dismissal of the CIS hetero-patriarchy?

Whenever laws and bills in Pakistan were passed regarding transgender rights, transmen were almost never called to the discussion table. But it was for first time among transgender women that one transman, I Sumair Ali Khan From Sub Rang Society, participated in First Round-table Conference on Protection Policy of Transgender Community Rights, supported by NCHR and The Asia Foundation. The credit goes to Kami Chaudhary (Executive Director of Sub Rang Society) who has been playing a vital and charismatic leadership role to build the capacity of the community, making more allies to develop a very sensationalized, diversifying and tolerant society.

It is also very significant to address the issues of Transmen of Pakistan, although they are not much visible yet they have very critical issues which can only be raised by spreading their stories so that people would come to know about their existence. Here, I will be sharing a heart-breaking story of a friend of mine, who has experienced the same discrimination from societal norms and “gender classification” as I have. Still struggling and fighting against family pressure and hate for transsexualism, he has shared his story with me, hoping to spread awareness that gender indeed isn’t classified by your genitals!

The Past

He grew up in a society so small, where a spark of a match stick in one home, could display light in a house on the other side of the bridge. Spending his life in a small Pakistani community, where the only thing people did for entertainment was to bring each other down (his family being one of them), he struggled to maintain his sanity and urges to be completely free.

Born to a father, with three daughters and one son, whose main aim was to raise his daughters by providing reasonable education and get them married – life definitely wasn’t easy. His father considered his son as his only support and this mindset of a girl being confined to their homes had bothered him to the core, from a very young age. The motive, not understood. The stereotyping of women needing a man’s protection for survival bothered him greatly.

When he was born, his parents wanted a son as they already had two daughters. However, life is never fair to people and he was born as a female, or in other words, another daughter in their eyes. As he grew up, it didn’t take long for him to realize that he was very different from his two sisters. By the age of five, he remembered fighting with his mom to wear male clothes. He felt uncomfortable pretending to be all girly yet was forced to be like a girl.

As time passed and he became older, he realized that he was often confused, anxious and depressed all the time. Something just didn’t seem right. He never wore clothes that would resemble female dressing. Studying in a co-education school, he has constantly called names like “teprotide, gay, and lesbian”. People wanted him to wear girl’s uniform, although his hair never even touched the end of his neck. He used to chop them off when his parents stopped taking him to the barber.

It wasn’t long before he realized that he indeed shares all the traits and qualities similar to a guy. This proved physically too, as he had high testosterone naturally and polycystic ovaries, which never allowed him to go through menstruation. His facial hair grew dark very early and it was quite visible to others too. Most people began getting confused that he’s a boy, but still had qualities of a female – he was wanted by other men – when he himself felt attracted to the opposite sex.

The attraction of other men who wanted him came down to the point where he even had to jump out of a running taxi when the guy was forcing himself onto him, showing his private parts, and wanted him to do the same. He was frightened with “gays” and didn’t want any connection whatsoever with men.

Finding Himself, Surgery, Challenges, and Society

After constantly battling to change himself and becoming what the society wanted him to be, he decided to see a psychologist at the age of 21. It wasn’t soon enough that he realized he’s not the only person in the world suffering and diagnosed with chronic depression and GID, which was caused by parents constantly wanting him to be “more like a girl”.

They took him to several backward-minded doctors whose thinking would disgust those supporting rights for transsexuals. Every doctor would ask him to take his clothes off so that they could examine his body parts. Why? For what reason? Why could he not just be accepted as someone different? His identity was definitely not placed in his genitals. And him having a vagina had nothing to do how he was in his mental and physical self – a guy!

The torture continued, and he was examined by seven different doctors, all of whom in a way enjoyed looking at his private body parts more than finding any solution to the problem. Everyone was telling him that he is just another girl and that he was constantly telling himself a lie. He was going through severe mental trauma, as he couldn’t figure out what to do, say, or not to do or say. He lost his job, began losing health, and felt like a walking/talking dead body – misunderstood and killed from the inside.

His family simply refused to understand that the suffering was indeed real. He was going through severe mental trauma. This was the time when he decided on taking strict action. He decided to run away from the aggressive environment he was born in. It was on 17 November 2015, when he told his parents he’d be leaving for an exam in Dubai. He contacted many individuals and tried saving as much as possible to perform surgery.

He was finally Himself

Dr.Mir Jelali was the specialist who operated on him in Iran. Exploiting his credulous and despairing personality, the surgeon charged him two fold of what he would charge a typical patient and played out an unpleasant test surgery on him. After the surgery, he needed to stay back in Iran for 3 weeks. Lonesome, he was dying in misery there. Sutures opened up with blood draining and the skin was swollen to death, as he was completely alone in the hotel room for the next 3 weeks, not receiving proper therapeutic care. After three weeks the doctor removed his stitches and told him to go back even though his stitches were still bleeding. He had no other option but to go back to Dubai, where he could not seek help from doctors because being a Trans person, he would have been detained in UAE and they would have either put him in jail or deported him to Pakistan. He did not have any other option besides bearing this excruciating pain. Soon he realized even his stitches had not been completely taken off and he needed to do the rest of them by himself.

It is said that Allah’s miracles are everywhere, we just fail to acknowledge them. Even in the worst days of his life, he was offered a much better job opportunity in Dubai than the one he had in Kuwait, which he accepted. A trans person from Pakistan he befriended over the internet asked him to visit him in Lahore where he knew about a surgeon who could help him. A trans person he had never met and who had never met him had trusted him enough to call him over. A person he found casually over the internet helped save his life.

Life in UAE

Ever since, he is living in UAE. He can not reveal his trans identity as he would be deported if he did so. He lives alone and tends not to socialize so that nobody finds out that he is a transgender. Every morning he dresses up like a man but then wears a coat and hijab over his head to cover his true identity and pretend to be someone who is accepted by this part of the world. Many times people stare at him even when he is wearing a hijab, people come and ask him if he’s a boy or a girl. Once a security check in airport took him to the machine through which they could scan his body because the policeman doubted that he was a transgender, as he had not had a surgery yet. All of this because he didn’t have his gender changed to male in the documents as it is very hard to get them changed in Pakistan. But now, even if he gets them changed he would never be allowed to enter UAE or Kuwait as they have his eye scan data which shows a person’s gender as a girl or a boy. Once they find out he changed his gender, they would never let him enter their country and he would lose his job.

He lives in a constant state of fear and anxiety. He knows maybe not today but one day they will find out that he is a transgender and deport him and he will lose his job and home. He hopes the coming years bring more awareness and respect for transgender community and the world understands that it was never a matter of choice for a transgender people to be who they are.