In Pakistan, there's an age-old tradition古老的傳統 many Westerners might find surprising: transvestites異性裝扮癖 at baby showers. Transgender women have long been considered good luck for Pakistani newborns and newlyweds. But they also face discrimination歧視.
NPR's Lauren Frayer talked with members of the
transgender community and shares her reporter's notebook. Pakistan
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Urban Pakistan assaults your senses攻擊(震撼)你的感官: tangles of traffic交通打結, Pakistani pop competing with the mosque's call to prayer巴基斯坦的流行歌與清真寺的祈禱聲相互轟債聽覺, pungent spices in the steamy air溫熱的氣溫中彌漫著辛辣的香料氣味. And then there are the transvestites.
FRAYER: At traffic lights, you see people draped in elegant pink and red clothing身上披著高雅的粉紅色與紅色服裝, with sparkling makeup顏色鮮豔的妝容. They tap their painted fingernails on your car window, asking for money. And that's when you notice the stubble鬍鬚渣 on their chins.
MINA MEHVISH: (Through translator) Begging here in traffic is just a part-time job, but I really want to be a dancer.
FRAYER: Thirty-three-year-old Mina Mehvish is a hijra, the South Asian term for transgender women, who trace their presence here back to at least the 16th century, when eunuchs太監 served as entertainers and guards in Mogul courts. This year, hijras won a legal battle 打了一場法律的勝仗to have a third gender 第三性option on national ID cards. About 50,000 Pakistanis are classified as hijras like Mehvish.
MEHVISH: (Through translator) I'm neither a man nor a woman. We cannot marry, we cannot produce children. So this is how we lead our lives. We're neither.
FRAYER: Mehvish was born male, but now identifies as a female - and not as gay, which she considers a sin in Islam.
MEHVISH: (Through translator) I just have a boyfriend, I don't have a girlfriend. So, I'm not homosexual.
FRAYER: Gender studies professor Fatimah Ihsan says Pakistanis have more fluid gender identities對於性別的界定比較不那麼僵硬 than you might expect. Part of that, she says, is the segregation of men and women, which creates very close same-sex friendships. Men hold hands 牽手in the street.
FATIMAH IHSAN: A lot of sort of homoeroticism同性之間的愛戀 you'll see, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they have a same-sex relationship. It's just part of our culture. In the West, I think everything has been boxed so strictly被侷限於框架中.
FRAYER: There is serious discrimination against hijras - stories of rape by police who are supposed to protect them. But slowly their status is rising這些變性人的地位正逐漸提升.
FRAYER: Last year, the highest-grossing Pakistani film was "Bol," which means speak out in Urdu烏爾都語(巴基斯坦的國語，同時也是印度規定的24種語言之一). The villain壞蛋 is a father who murders his son for wanting to wear women's clothes. Almas Bobby, the leader of Pakistan's transgender community, made a cameo友情客串 (通常出現的時間與次數不多，多是名人在劇中扮演自己，友時沒有對白) in the film.
ALMAS BOBBY: When I see lot of discrimination, then I decided to do something for my community, because there was no platform平台. They feel it's an embarrassing, sensitive topic.
FRAYER: Bobby took the ID card battle to
Supreme Court and won. She also organized a recent protest - transgender women against
the U.S. drone
strikes in Pakistan 's
tribal areas抗議美國無人機在巴基斯坦境內進行偵測轟炸任務. The political
visibility政治能見度 has helped, she says. Pakistan
BOBBY: Now, people realize that we are God's creation, and we have our rights. And God sent us but not in tribal areas.
FRAYER: There are some conservative neighborhoods保守的區域 where hijras are not welcome. Down a dark alley across from a mosque清真寺(回教寺院), a bunch of transgender wedding singers rehearse in secret.
FRAYER: While having her makeup done, a 22-year-old performer who goes by the single name Sameeha, says she once dreamed of being a doctor. But she came out as a hijra as a teen, and faced so much discrimination that she quit school.
FRAYER: There are allegations that we're involved in sex and drugs, but we're God-fearing敬畏上帝的 people, she says. Why don't people worry about the real problems in society, instead of us?
Lauren Frayer, NPR News,
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