Transgender person given new lease on life

Gujranwala’s Waseem was born a transgender, colloquially known as a khwaja sara

Asif Mehmood March 12, 2019

LAHORE: Twenty seven-year-old Waseem – a pseudonym to protect his real identity – lived as a boy his entire life. However, he never felt like one until he underwent a gender reassignment surgery.

Originally from Gujranwala, Waseem was a born a transgender, colloquially known as a khwaja sara. He is the fourth eldest out of a total of eight children in the family. Although he was born with feminine features, he had always been identified as a boy. But growing up was not easy.

Speaking to Express News before his operation, Waseem said that when he was growing up and enrolled at school, his peers used to make fun of him, and teased him relentlessly. It eventually became too much to handle so he stopped going to school after the sixth grade, he added.

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“When I had gotten a little older, I thought that perhaps I could try and get a job. But, whenever I would apply, I would face the same senseless taunts and jeers,” he recalled. This unending cycle of bullying and harassment led him to a life of isolation, away from prying eyes.

“I found some hope when I heard that a simple operation could help me live life on my terms,” he said.

Waseem’s surgery was conducted at a private hospital in Lahore and was funded by the Birth Defects Foundation (BDF).

Ansar Javed, the chairman at BDF said that the organisation caters to correcting 18 birth defects which include gender reassignment surgeries.

“In our society, parents choose to hide children whose gender is not immediately apparent out of shame,” said Javed. But not many are aware that such congenital defects can be fixed with simple medical procedures,” he explained.

The BDF has successfully operated on 118 transgender children, majority of whom chose to become women after the surgery. Javed said that in Waseem’s case, doctors advised him to become a woman. However, he chose to become a man due to his identification as a male since childhood and partly also because he dons beard and moustache.

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Following a successful surgery, he will now be able to live life as a male and will also be able to get married in the future, the chairman added.

Speaking to Express News, Waseem’s mother said that she always knew that her child was different. But they were unable to discuss the situation with others due to the fear of being ostracised. “I always used to worry about him. He had chosen to live a life in isolation,” she added.

Dr Afzal Sheikh, who operated on Waseem, said that he has operated on hundreds of transgender children and has been successful in giving them a new lease on life. After the surgery, Waseem will not require any hormone medication and can live his life as a normal, young adult male.

I have been hiding my true identity for years. But even when I can finally embrace who I am on the inside, I am still forced to use a pseudonym so that I am not a source of shame for my family, he said.

Waseem has a younger brother who is also a transgender. After his successful operation, his 23-year-old brother will also undergo a similar procedure.


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