Society and Norms: Gender Roles - Hijra

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Pakistan has a third gender category, the hijra (or hijira), consisting of male eunuchs, hermaphrodites, and homosexual transvestites who dress and act like women but are considered neither women nor men. They are pitied as being fallen children of Allah and are routinely discriminated against and feared because of their ability to perform curses. They refer to themselves in feminine pronouns and expect to be referred to in the same way. Hijra populations exist in most cities throughout Pakistan and live in communal families. Each family creates a fictional lineage that gives a sense of kinship and identity. Historically, hijras played important roles during the Mughal Empire as care takers to a ruler's harem and as political confidants to their masters. Contemporary hijras are forced to make a living by performing at weddings and births, begging, and prostitution [14].


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