KARACHI     -   Patients facing Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) and the transgender people are not responsible for their predicament and deserve to be treated with compassion and love as they are no less of a human being than cisgender (whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth) people.

These views were expressed by national and international experts while speaking at plenary session on “Disorders of Sexual Development and Transgender Care” as part of 17th Pakistan Endocrine Society Conference (PESCON-19) which was underway here at a local hotel on Sunday.

They said chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal imbalance and environmental factors sometimes result in Disorder of Sex Development, adding that they are the rare conditions in which a baby is born with both male and female reproductive organs and/or genitals. In such cases, it is not always possible to tell right away (differentiate) whether the baby is a boy or a girl. In the past, disorders of sex differentiation were given names such as intersex or hermaphroditism.

Experts said stigma makes lives of people with disorders of sex development miserable but added that when enabled and not judged, they are capable of doing anything like cisgender people and urged the authorities in Pakistan to establish special treatment centers at major public health facilities to provide physical and psychological treatment to people born with “Ambiguous Genitalia” and “Gender Dysphoria”.

International endocrinologists and diabetologists from different countries of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany, as well as those of the Middle East and the Americas attended the conference and discussed the prevailing scenario in the field of endocrinology and diabetology.

Speaking on the occasion, eminent endocrinologist and one of the organizers of PESCON-19, Prof Tasnim Ahsan read out the consensus statement of the Pakistan Endocrine Society, which states that “We recognise the one in approximately 5000 live births may be an individual with DSD but the prevalence of transgender individuals is difficult in Pakistan as these people are largely living in shadows, because of societal attitudes and stigmatization”.

Prof Tasnim Ahsan said World Health Organization no longer classifies ‘gender identity disorders’ as psychiatric disorders and is classed under ‘sexual health’ rather than ‘mental health’. The consensus statement further states that “there is a serious dearth of healthcare professionals and expertise to help these individuals in leading a fulfilling and happy life”.

“We resolve to develop multi-disciplinary teams in all provinces, and raise capacity to optimize the care of these individuals. Above all we, as members of a professional society and as individuals, will try our best to inform and educate other professionals and lay people, so as to remove societal stigma and enable these individuals to seek effective professional treatment with multidisciplinary input, without being judged”, the consensus statement further said.

Eminent psychiatrist and Dean of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) Karachi Prof Iqbal Afridi said Islam ensures equal rights and respect for all human beings without any discrimination based on sex, gender, colour, cast or creed and added that Islam even ensures protection of rights of animals so how come it could allow disrespect for a human being with confused identity.

“Our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) treated transgender people with respect. He prohibited ill-treatment and praised spiritually-inclined transgender people” Prof Afridi said and added that even All Almighty said in Quran that it He who “makes them both males and females”.

He informed that government of Pakistan has passed a law titled “Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights Act) 2018”, to provide relief, protection and rehabilitation to such people and added that society needs to change its opinion about these people while authorities should help them in assimilation in the society.

Eminent endocrinologist from United Kingdom Dr Tabinda Dugal spoke about the causes of development of sex disorders and said endocrinologists should help such people by offering them endocrine or hormonal therapies, options of surgeries and psychological help to live a normal live. Another psychiatrist from United Kingdom Dr Qasim Shah deplored that hate crimes against transgender people were on the rise even in the educated societies like UK and other European countries and called for helping them to live a normal life in the society.

Renowned Plastic Surgeon Dr Sheraz Raza spoke on the surgical treatment of people with ambiguous genitalia and said clear laws should be made in Pakistan so that proper treatment could be offered to people facing development of sex disorders. Dr Atif Munir also spoke on the occasion.

Later, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between Pakistan Society of Internal Medicine (PSIM) and Pakistan Endocrine Society for the standardization of diabetes care and treatment in the country.