One of the little commented on obstacles to the U.S. and Pakistan working together as such famously ineffective anti-terrorist allies is the difference between the fundamental cultures of the two nations. One country is largely Christian; the other, almost exclusively Muslim. One country often embraces the new and creative; the other holds very dear traditional thinking and behavior. One country is viewed by many who don’t live there as having large numbers of classy people and institutions; the other is viewed by many who don’t live there as having rugs and rocks. In regard to these points, however, there is at least one recent indication that Pakistan may be evolving in its official thinking, specifically becoming open to modern ideas and realities.
By which is meant, of course, transgender rights. Again: in Pakistan.
Here’s a quick quiz question that you’ll likely get wrong, even though you’ll have the answer right in front of you: How many transgender individuals are there in Pakistan? A) 7; B) 400; C) 5000; D) 15,000; E) 50,000. HONNNK!!! Sorry, the correct answer is 50,000, and every one of those 50,000 was surely heartened by a decision in April by their country’s Supreme Court that directed bureaucrats to officially designate a “third sex” on documents requiring gender identification. Really open-minded, huh?
Not so fast. As explained by my buddy Chuck Shepherd of News of the Weird.com (citing the BBC on 4/25/11), the Pakistani judges went further, “recommend[ing] that transgenders be awarded government job quotas and suggest[ing] ‘tax collector’ as one task for which they are particularly suited, since their presence at homes and businesses still tends to embarrass debtors into paying up quickly (especially since many transgenders outfit themselves, and behave, flamboyantly).”
Now see, that’s not classy. It’s sophomoric and smartass, and picks on a downtrodden minority by invoking a stereotype that can’t possibly be accurate across 50,000 people. Broad-minded Americans would never do such a thing.
Well, maybe we wouldn’t necessarily write the non-classy and sophomoric into law; we might just reserve it for our private (or semi-private) lives. The following items all come from the same News of the Weird weekly posting as the one designating the Pakistani transgender story its lead item:
First, there was the couple in Greensboro, NC, who were married before friends and family at their local Jiffy Lube. Although Chuck didn’t, I’m withholding the names of these lovebirds in the blind hope that there was actually a perfectly understandable, and perhaps, even a very romantic reason for the location of the nuptials. (Did the bride wear white in that setting?)
Second, I’ll list the man from Okaloosa County, FL, who was charged with misdemeanor trespass in April for entering a strip club he’d been barred from in February. In his defense, the accused said he knew he’d been barred from a strip club, but couldn’t recall which one.
Finally, risking expulsion, suspension, class failure, or an assignment F at minimum (I think that covers it), an unidentified college senior in Colorado reported a company in Minnesota that produces college “papers” to the Better Business Bureau in Minneapolis-St. Paul. After charging her $23 a page, EssayWritingCompany.com allegedly failed to deliver.
In other words, with ample evidence that neither Pakistani nor American behavior is quite as bad as blowing people and buildings up, we might well be able to work out this war on terror thing between us.
Oops, that’s probably a hasty generalization, huh?
Well, whaddaya want? At least I didn’t blow up your house.
Like any Pakistani, I had a choice.
Source: “Week of May 29, 2011.” News of the Weird.com. 4 June 2011.