13 July 2012

Running Here For Their Lives

In an earlier post, I described the ordeal of "Fahrida," who was in one of my first support groups.  Now I will tell you something you might have guessed from her name:  In her home country, she was a hijra.  In Western countries, they are often classified as transgender or intersexed, but those terms are not exact equivalents to what hijra are, much less the roles they play in those societies.

As a feminine boy, she was outcast by her family and community.  While she could demand fees for appearing at weddings and such, and could even extort men or do sex work, she did not want to do those things.  Anyone who's ever done, or known anyone who's done, sex work realizes the risk of experiencing violence--or even being murdered--that goes along with such work.  Those risks are even greater for the hijra, who, like transgender and other gender-non-conforming people, experience the most brutal and gratuitous kinds of violence.

She cited these risks in her appeal to remain in this country.  That appeal was denied, as was her request to return to this country from a third country where she now lives.

What a lot of people don't realize is that LGBT--especially T--people who come to this country are often, literally, running for their lives.  Even though they can meet with grisly, violent deaths here, the risk is somewhat lower, and there is more of a chance of finding individuals or groups of people who will accept them.  They will not be confined to living among other bands of outcasts, as the hijra are in countries like Pakistan.

Plus, if they can stay, there is at least some chance of getting an education and doing something besides sex work--even if it's driving a cab, as Fahrida did when she was here.