For 14 long years, Shaheen lived the life of a young girl. But things changed when her facial skin began to turn bristly with coarse, man-like hair.
Shaheen’s family panicked. For two years, Shaheen’s new identity has caused them to lead a life of stigma. The brunt, of course, is borne by the victim: “I am neither woman nor man. I cannot work out of home or marry. It is a miserable existence,” said Shaheen while talking to The Express Tribune.
Hailing from the Khajori area of the Bara Tehsil in Khyber Agency, Shaheen’s family is needy enough to require charity for day to day sustenance. Her family, which comprises her mother, 12-year-old brother, and a father whose whereabouts have been unknown for the past eight years.
Neither here nor there
Shaheen insists on being identified as male and not a transgender. Shy and reclusive, the troubled teenager says, “I have spent all my life behind closed doors, and now I cannot face people outside. I have always dressed as a girl because my mother considered me one,” says Shaheen.
“Whenever I try to mingle with women, they tell me that I am a male. But men say I am a female,” added Shaheen.
The defining surgery
Doctors in Peshawar have prescribed a sex change operation for Shaheen which will cost Rs 80,000. Owing to this exorbitant sum, Shaheen continues to dwell in the demonised ‘middle’. Shaheen says that the surgery costs can hardly be borne by a poor family – particularly one which does not have a male bread winner.
Sagheer Khan Afridi, Shaheen’s uncle, says that he had brought Shaheen to the hospital for a surgery, but being a daily wage earner himself, he cannot pay for the operation. “Shaheen has been crying for a surgery, but we do not have any means to pay for one and can only appeal to philanthropists to help us,” said Afridi.
Shaheen has also appealed to philanthropists. “I am neither interested in becoming a female or male; rather, I want to lead a normal life like other people,” Shaheen said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.