Pakistan’s LGBT community watched in shocked silence as a young woman who appeared on a reality show popular with the young said she hated transgenders and all transgenders should be killed as they were useless and a burden on society.
The woman, identified by her first name Mariam, appeared on ARV Musik channel’s “Living on the edge: Kon hai risk taker” (Who will take the risk?) show.
Asked by the host to name what she hated, the woman, dressed in a pair of jeans and a white shirt instead of the tradition salwar-kameez to indicate she was modern and progressive, said she hated “hijras”.
The word hijra in Asia covers transgenders, cross-dressers and eunuchs, and is often used as an insult.
However, eunuchs have their own unassailable place in ancient Asian history and culture. Traditionally some of them wielded high influence in royal harems, were king makers, and showed great prowess during war and expeditions, like China’s famed voyager-discoverer Admiral Zheng He.
The contestant, who professed to be an aspiring model looking for fame rather than money and described herself as being the most daring of all fellow contestants, told the stunned host that if she ever gave birth to a hijra child, she would “finish” it as hijras were useless and had no place in society.
When the stern host Waqaq Zaka, who is also the producer of the program, admonished her, saying she was talking rubbish, had proved to be the most disappointing contestant, and he would have slapped her had she been a man, her only response was to smile provocatively and play with her hair.
Throughout the incident, she did not express any remorse at what she had said, nor any signs of being upset on being rebuked publicly by the host.
Though homosexuality is a punishable offense in Pakistan, the hijra culture however has widespread acceptance, partly due to being an inseparable part of ancient culture.
Hijras are not forced underground like gays and lesbians, and veterans like Bindia Rana have basked in global limelight, especially after Rana decided to take part in elections this year as a contestant.
Throughout the show, the woman laughed, struck poses and constantly fussed over her long hair left loose.
At one point she seemed to hit on the host, a national celebrity, saying she wanted to touch him.
The episode was posted on the Internet and on the web site of a gay rights organization, Queer Pakistan.
The television channel sought to distance itself from the contestant, running a disclaimer that said it did not support her views.
The transphobic outburst prompted a video posting on Queer Pakistan web site with the poster urging, "Don't hate us, know us."