CHAKWAL: It is an awkward time for 25-year-old Shahbaz Qadeer and 13-year-old Waleed Ahmed, who a few weeks ago were Shabnam Qadeer and Walizah Qadeer.
Both siblings, residents of Talagang city, were brought up as females, but have now been declared by doctors as male.
Though medically it is not an unusual phenomenon, for the general public it is a rare case of gender change. Besides, the two siblings seem reluctant to mix in society.
When Shahbaz and Waleed were born in the house of Qadeer Ahmed in Talagang, they were declared baby girls. “We brought them up as our daughters,” Qadeer, the excited father, told Dawn. However, the parents remained in confusion as the sexual organs of the two sisters were not explicit.
Till the intermediate level, Shabnam studied at a government school. “I was an athlete and took part in the 100-metres race and long jump competitions.”
Shabnam, who grabbed positions in athletics and long jump competitions, remained an object of teasing by her class-fellows. “My classmates used to tease me as my features were manly,” he recalled as he looked at the five trophies won by him as a female player of Government Girls High School Talagang in different games conducted by the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Rawalpindi.
Shabnam left school seven years ago and since then she has spent her life in the four walls of the house. “Due to the gender confusion, I remained cut-off from society.”
In her computerised national identity card (CNIC), the gender of Shahbaz was mentioned as “female.”
The younger Waleed was also brought up as a daughter. He is now in 8th class at a private school where co-education system is in practice. “Though she was registered as a girl at the school, she was more inclined towards boys,” said Aniqa Batool, the principal of the school.
As both the sisters grew up, so did the worries of their parents. “We remained in distress about the gender of our two siblings. We kept on visiting doctors. A few months ago, Dr Masroor Malik at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) in Rawalpindi declared them boys,” said Mr Qadeer.
After getting confirmation from the BBH, Qadeer moved an application with the local union council office for changing the names and gender of his siblings. The local administration referred the matter to the District Headquarters Hospital Chakwal where a medical board also declared the siblings as male. “When they came here, we found them male,” said Dr Ahsan Naveed, the medical superintendent of the DHQ hospital.
Qadeer has now moved an application with National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for a fresh CNIC for Shahbaz.
Shahbaz, who a few weeks ago had long hair and wore women dress, is now seen in men’s wears. He has got his long hair cut while his moustaches are now sprouting.
“Though I’m happy to have two male members in my family, my son Shahbaz now needs a job,” said Qadeer. “I want to join Pakistan Army,” added Waleed.
Talking to Dawn, Dr Masroor Malik, the urologist at the BBH, said sometimes due to an imbalance in hormones the gender remains unclear. “Due to the imbalance in hormones, the growth also gets halted due to which sexual organs do not appear though they do exist.” He said such type of confusion is cleared when hormonal growth is revived. “During the last about 10 years, we received 30 such cases at the BBH,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2015