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Transphobia to transrespect: undoing Hijraism through rehumanization of Khwaja Siras in Pakistani TV dramas

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • A. Kanwal
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Gender Studies
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)949-961
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/05/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article explores the phenomenon of the de and rehumanization of khwaja siras in two Pakistani national television plays: Alif Allah Aur Insaan (Alpha, Allah and Man) and Khuda Mera Bhi Hai (God is Mine too). I argue that these two plays made a significant contribution to the reimagining and reconstruction of khwaja sira subjectivities, which were later endorsed by Third gender legislation in 2009 and the Pakistan National Assembly's historic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2018. In order to understand the process of the reversal of dehumanization, namely rehumanization, I discuss how violence (both physical and psychological) has been legitimized in Pakistan's patriarchal society by restricting the mobility of khwaja siras in both private and public spaces. Against the backdrop of processes of multi-layered dehumanization and systemic violence, I argue that the pro-(gendered) minority narratives in these plays initiated a process of redefining the notions of home, belonging and relatedness for transgenders; in so doing, the newly-constructed multi-dimensional khwaja sira subjectivities gesture towards the (re)opening of gender restrictive spaces, enumerating the complex ways in which khwaja siras assert their agency and inclusion within mainstream society through resistance and collective action.