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Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences

It’s Complicated: Socio-Cultural Factors and the Disclosure Decision of Transgenders in Pakistan

By Abubakr Saeed, Usman Mughal, and Shaista Farooq, 2017

The literature on the disclosure decision of transsexual individuals is sparse, and that which does exist either uses empirical quantitative methods, or aggregates transsexuals with other non-heterosexual individuals. The current study focuses this under- researched group and examines the disclosure decision of transsexual people in Pakistan, a developing Muslim country with a unique amalgam of social, cultural, and religious ground realities. Drawing on thematic analysis technique using in-depth interviews with 16 transsexuals, we show how socio-cultural factors that are inherently embedded in the environment influence the disclosure decision in work and non-work settings. In particular, our respondents illustrate that their disclosure decision, which ranges from total disclosure on one end to nondisclosure on the other end, is influenced by the complexities of family honour, tightly integrated family network, social obligation to get married and prevalent religious beliefs in the society. This study advances understanding of identity and disclosure decision of transsexual individuals by explicating the ways in which socio-cultural factors are intricate part of their decision of coming out.

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