The ‘Khusra’ Community

A ‘Khura’ is a person who was born as a male but lacks in some important male traits. They are also known as ‘Hijras’. I guess the closest term would be Third Gender. I lack the knowledge and vocabulary to explain and may offend someone. Please forgive me for that.

So, I met a couple the other day.

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These guys live in separate communities and work as entrainment workers. Would come to any place where something good has happened such as birth of a baby boy, wedding etc. Would dance in their own particular way and sing. Same also just beg on the streets. some resort to work as sex workers. Known to be very witty and therefore people would just pay some thing and keep a distance.

more often than not, they dress as females and would put on makeup.

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Sometimes it may hard to tell them apart.

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When they hear about some of their kind born in some family, their elders would come and try to adopt the kid and that is how they grow in communities. Actually they do live a happy life. They are well accepted as third gender in the society. In the old days (Mughal Empire) they were hired to serve the royal ladies. No threat you see.

I hope I have enhanced your knowledge about this part of our local culture.

 

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Posted in Culture, Street Photography
23 comments on “The ‘Khusra’ Community
  1. themofman says:

    You have indeed, Dr. This aspect of Pakistani and other eastern cultures is presumed to exist by many westerners, and known to exist by some westerners through literature but seldom visually seen by the west, and certaily not really discussed. The subject isn’t really even explored proactively. Unfortunately, I think we’re just so wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t really care about how the rest of the world lives. So, we just wait until someone like you comes along and directs or attention to a phenomenon such as this.

    I’m in Canada, and people who are not of the “heteronormative (that’s a new word me, and this is my first time actually using it in a sentence)” are definitely treated as a fringe society here. Third gendered people are able to find some social acceptance and political power through association with the Lesbian Gay Transgender and “Queer” (LGBTQ) communities and organizations across the country.

    Your description of the typical professional lives of Hijras as entertainers and sex workers sounds not too different from what the heteronormative (I’ve done it again; I’m so impressed with myself today) population assumes to be common amongst transsexuals; perhaps especially male-to-female transsexuals. In reality, I doubt we really know just what is typical of our third gendered and transgendered citizens. We just assume things. The begging aspect you’ve mentioned seems to be the only missing factor. Begging does not appear to be common at all amongst our LGBTQ population.

    A very enlightening post, Dr. I hope that you’ll be able to explore more about this, like this, in the future. I hope that I will also be able to.

    • Dr_IQ says:

      Thanks Allan for an equally enlightening comment. This was a difficult post. I do not know (hardly anybody knows) enough about this community. In fact, as you mentioned, we seem to ignore and not think about them. It was already difficult for me to differentiate between trans-this and trans-that and you have thrown in a new word, hetero-norm-ative. Interesting term.
      Thanks again.

  2. I recall seeing an article on television about this once but thank you for the photos and sharing. It is always more realistic when not produced by big media.

  3. belfebe says:

    This is very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing photos of part of your culture that I would never have the chance to experience without your blog. I like the fact that your language uses the term “third gender”. It’s much easier to add into conversation than the ones frequently used here in the west and mentioned above by Allan.

    • Dr_IQ says:

      Thanks and you are welcome. I appreciate the support. I guess civil rights are least important for the people of the third word. Therefore, most of the affairs are simple and mater of fact.

  5. Dr. IQ, thank you for raising this issue from Pakistan. It is an important world issue and is being discussed fairly extensively in the the U.S. I’ve taken the liberty of searching on National Public Radio’s (NPR) website under “trans-gender issues” and sharing it here for those that want read and/or listen to more on this issue. http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=trans-gender+issues Some would consider NPR more liberal lining and I would generally agree.

  6. This is a wonderful post and very illuminating. We’d love to see and understand more about the community. Do you have any photo projects planned?
    Thank you for this great post!

  7. Son of Sharecroppers says:

    Fabulous post. This should be on the front page of WordPress.

    I understand that other societies also recognize such “third sex” persons. It’s a fascinating topic.

    • Dr_IQ says:

      Thank you very much for the kind words. Let us hope we fulfill our duty towards the less fortunate members of the society.

      • Son of Sharecroppers says:

        “Let us hope we fulfill our duty towards the less fortunate members of the society”: Amen.

  8. Mike Pratt says:

    This is excellent documentation my friend. Thank you for sharing. This could make for an interesting and educational photo essay / project. Have you any plans for this?

    • Dr_IQ says:

      Thanks Mike. As I said in the reply above, right now I am handling 2 1/2 course at the university. I may do a project in summer. Thanks again.

  9. Vicki says:

    Thanks for sharing this information and images.

    I think these communities are often maligned and misunderstood. It’s helpful to others to see them in a natural setting (as opposed to media hype and exploitation).

    • Dr_IQ says:

      Thanks Vicki. I am amazed at the response from the readers of this blog. I guess the right chord was hit. I do thank you and all the others to show sensitivity (as opposed to indifferent response) to this fact of life.

      I see you are having good time at RBG.

  10. That is really interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t know about these communities. I think these third gendered people – they’d be called ‘third sex’ in the UK – are more accepted in Pakistan than they are here.

    In this country they would pick a gender and try to be ‘normal’ or their parents would pick a gender for them and they would have lots of operations to make them as near to that gender as possible.

    I know that there are ‘eunuchs’ in India (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/332173.stm) who live a separate life but I didn’t know about the Hijras in Pakistan.

  12. Dr_IQ says:

    Thanks for commenting. I think a Hijra and a Eunuch is the same, technically.

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