Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) faculty, Muhammad Azfar Nisar’s research article, ‘(un)becoming a man: Legal consciousness of the third gender in Pakistan’ has been accepted for publication in Gender & Society (ABDC A*). This is Dr. Nasir’s third A/A* publication since joining SDSB and fourth overall.
In the last decade, a few countries have created a third gender category to legally recognise gender non-conforming individuals. However, we know relatively little about the response of the gender non-conforming individuals towards the legal third gender category. To address this gap, this article analyses the different social, religious, and institutional discourses that have emerged around the recently created third gender category in Pakistan and their influence on the legal consciousness of the Khawaja Sira community, a marginalised gender non-conforming group. Even though the third gender category was created to address the unique gender identity of the Khawaja Sira community, most continue to legally register as men. My research indicates that patriarchal stigma, high compliance costs and limited material benefits associated with the legal third gender category dissuade the Khawaja Sira community from choosing to register. My findings point to the limitations of a legal third gender category within a patriarchal socio-legal order where important benefits associated with the masculine identity are forfeited by registering. In doing so, my research cautions against over emphasising the symbolic value of legal recognition for gender non-conforming groups.