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    I was in Pakistan a few years ago. I think I may have noticed this earlier, during previous visits to Pakistan, but perhaps blocked it out of my memory. Pakistan has a group of men who dress up as women. I'm not sure what the urdu term for them is. They seem to be accepted into society and are not really viewed as a threat. I found this quite fascinating. I was curious as to if any Pakistanis could elaborate on the status of these men/women within Pakistani society. And are they any different from the North American transgendered? And are they homosexual?

    I think they are called Khusra!



      When I was in Pakistan I noticed the same thing as Achtung...that they are basically accepted in society. For very conservative culture...we are pretty tolerant of Kushras.



        well i think mostly these ppl are biologically like that...therefore they r accepted. Its just a part of our culture. Although a lot of them would do just for money...since its kind of a business...they r invited over on weddings etc to dance/sing (i dont know why)I dont beleive they r homosexuals.


          There was a programme on tv some years ago about these Khusray (in the UK). From what I remember, they are 'tolerated' because of superstitious beliefs. Their appearance at weddings is to bless the couple. If they are not allowed in then they curse the couple. Similar to the Sleeping Beauty story - for those who remember their childhood.

          Also, they are tolerated because they are an embarassment. As is usually the case in our country, embarrassing things are simply ignored - just swept under the carpet. This way the people don't have to deal with it.

          Anybody out there had any dealings with Khusray?


            I think the official term is Higgra.

            Later on


              The terms described here are actually the one used nowadays. But if you study the history of sub-continent you will learn that these people were employed by the emperors and were called 'Khuwaja Sira" and they were basically at the service of the "Haram" of emperor and a connection between male and female portions of the palace.

              The kingdoms are lost now but they still exists and doing what they can do best.

              [This message has been edited by JAK (edited February 10, 1999).]


                I recall when I was six, and that little bit over, we travelled up north of Pakistan, not to far from the mountains, where we happened to come across one of these type of people. I was with my mother at the time enjoying the scenery, when a female looking figure came out of nowhere and pointed our way, calling us over. As we approached, I began to get extremely anxious, when I noticed it was a guy with heavy makeup and long hair, dressed in a tangerine coloured hoodless cloak. I began pulling on my mother's arm, and telling her not go any further, but she said it would be okay, and that nothing would happen. Anyhow, my anxiety got the better of me as I stopped some ten metres short, while mamm'aa continued on up to him. I don't think I got around to asking my mother what he wanted, but I think he was after some money. When I asked, I think my mother told me that they are called 'Shadolai ka chooha' - but I can't remember for sure.

                Does that name ring a bell with anyone?



                  oh that name brings back my childhood. Actually its "Dolay Shah ka Chooha". There used to be so many of them around my nano's home.Hai woh din kahan chalay gaye.

                  Anyways the story i know abt them is that when some ppl dont have children they'll go to a mazar or something and make dua. They say that, after this if they have any children, they are required to give the first born to these ppl. Now this is very sad...what they do with these children. For the first couple of yrs or may be more, some kind of an iron shell(i dont know what else to call it) is tied to these poor kids' heads. As a result their heads stay of the same size and also their brains either dont develop properly or are damaged. Then they stay in groups and the only thing i know which they do is beg.
                  But these ppl say that these children are born this way?
                  I dont understand why something is not done to stop this evil practice.


                    I'm grateful for your responses (and I welcome more), they are a real eye-opener:

                    Dilwale and Zman - thanks for the clarification in Urdu terminology.

                    Ak and AbuMuhammad - thanks for your thoughts on tolerance. The fact that Pakistani's tolerate transgendered really does fascinate me. Actually I think it is more than just tolerance, they are in fact accepted in society. Transgendered are just barely tolerated in North America.

                    JAK - thats very interesting. It would seem as though historically these hijjra were used by Kings to deal with their harems, perhaps because they had no sexual attraction to the women in these harems, or was it something else?

                    Hasnain - interesting story, are you still afraid of them? Its interesting to see how Pakistanis, without probably even noticing it, are not very homo-phobic. In the west you'd get a different response. You would definately not see any mothers approaching transgendered individuals and talking with them.

                    Zainab - that is terrible. I've never heard of that before. It must be a rare practice. I don't really know what to say about that. Russians use to wrap their children up tightly in blankets to stop them from crying, and this had an effect on the babies development. And I've heard of similar stories of child rearing in different cultures. This is the first time I've heard of such a practice in Pakistan.


                      Are Hijras born that way ? Or are they castrated as children which allows the absence of certain hormones to generate female sexuality?
                      Please clarify?


                        I think they are born that way.

                        Interesting topic Achtung.

                        I do think they are tolerated and there are many customs which involve kushra and the luck or blessing they bring on weddings, births etc. However, I think its an uneasy acceptance.

                        I remember the kusras visiting my grandfather’s homes and they put on a show!!!! They also make tons of money from those shows.


                          People are not "BORN" Hijras..they are influenced by society which inturn makes them dress like the opposite sex
                          22.1 . O mankind! Fear your Lord . Lo! the earthquake of the Hour ( of Doom ) is a tremendous thing .


                            As far as i know these are the children kidnapped and castrated and also those which are born like that i.e. without clear gender recognition which is not very uncommon and we do know of the change in gender cases quite a lot. But in a less educated society this shape out in a different manner i.e. hijars.


                              This is interesting, two opposing viewpoints.

                              Hinna says that they are not "born" transgendered, while JAK believes at least a group of them are "born" this way.

                              Reminds me of the debate waging in the scientific circles regarding homosexuality. Are homosexuals born this way or is it a reaction to societal factors? I'm not sure myself...something to think about