Research Article | Open Access

Measuring Attitudes toward Hijras in Pakistan: Gender and Religiosity in Perspective

    Humaira Jami

    National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Anila Kamal

    National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

02 Jun, 2014
23 Feb, 2015
30 Jun, 2015

Hijras are marginalised and stigmatised sexual minority in Pakistan. Quite recently, hijras have attained third gender status at the State level in Pakistan. Main objectives of the present study were to develop a valid and reliable scale for measuring attitudes towards hijras of hijra community and then establishing role of gender and religiosity in these attitudes. Present research was accomplished in two studies. In Study 1, 32 items based Attitude towards Hijra Scale was developed by utilising empirical approach. Through principle component analysis of exploratory factor analysis, 3 factors emerged namely Rights and Status, Social Distance, and Sexual Issues on the data of 350 participants. In Study 2, psychometric properties of the scale were established on sample of 186 university students. Cronbach alphas and construct validity based on significant positive inter-subscale correlations and correlations with total score were satisfactory. Overall, participants had more acceptance of hijras’ rights and status than accepting them in close relationship and tolerating sexual issues. Men and more religion-practising individuals had more negative attitudes towards hijras than their counterparts that reflected upon construct validity of the scale. Most of the participants had low level of interaction with hijras, among them men had more level of interaction than women. Level of interaction had significant correlation with attitudes, with less interaction attitudes are positive. Most of the participants believed that hijras are born with sexual deformities (hempahrodite/intersexed), comparatively more women believed so than men. Findings were later discussed in socio-cultural context of Pakistan.

Attitudes have a utilitarian function. People stick to those attitudes and like the objects which are central to their values than those which threaten these (Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Hogg & Vaughan, 2005; Maio, Olson, Bernard, & Luke, 2006). Defining gender holds great significance in everybody’s life as it regulates the future interaction of/with others (Kessler & McKenna, 1978) and relates to core values of the people. Deviating from normative beliefs and standards about sex/gender is considered to be pathological (Ekins & King, 1996; Sharma, 2000) and a threat to the cultural and religious values. Such gender/sexual deviance can be physiological sexual deformity called hermaphroditic or intersexed condition (Diamond, 2002); cross-gendered dressing, behaviours, and identity (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) over all known as transgenderism or transsexualism (Ekins & King, 1997); or deviant sexual orientation like homosexuality and bisexuality (Crooks & Baur, 2005; Hausman, 2001).

Family, friends, and society try to stop deviant behaviours (Gilbert, 2000; Sharma, 2000). Consequently, the person with deviant tendencies and interests try to find the outlets for showing such behaviours and ultimately resolves to find acceptance and appreciation in organized support groups/subcultures/communities (Mabey, 2007; Yip, 2007). Such groups declared as gender deviants or third gender role, are found all over the world under different titles (see Boellstroff, 2004; Conway, 2002; Kessler & McKenna, 1978; Mahalingam, 2003; McLelland, 2002; Nanda, 2008; Roen, 2001; Teh, 2001; Totman, 2003; Winter, 2002). In the Sub-continent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), the most established of all such groups exists called hijras who live as members of hijra community (Haider & Bano, 2006; Jami, 2005; Nanda, 2008; Riaz, 1996; Talwar, 1999; Winter, 2002).

Hijra is an umbrella term used for those men who are transgender, eunuch, transvestites, hermaphrodites or intersexed, bisexuals or homosexuals with feminine behaviour (Nanda, 1999; Sharma, 2000), loosely defined as third gender (see also Pande, 2004), and neither man nor woman, but containing characteristics of both; an intersexed/impotent man, who undergoes emasculation in which all parts of the genitals are removed (Nanda, 1999); physically healthy man who may or may not have castration but wear female clothes (Sinha as cited in Sharma, 2000); and behave like women (Khan & Ayub, 2003). Women who wear male clothes or try to attain male identity (female-to-male transgender) do not fall in the category of hijra (Jami, 2005). World-over, hijras and members of such communities portray identity of hermaphrodite/intersexed (see Winter, 2002) claiming to be asli [original] (Teh, 2001), while such a category of hijras are very rare in hijra community (Jami, 2012; Riaz, 1996).

A lot of misconceptions prevail about hijras as scientific and empirical studies conducted on this group seriously lack. People hold stereotypic beliefs that God has blessed them with powers in their blessings and curses being born with sexual deformity. People do fear this dogma (also see Sharma, 2000; Singh, 2001; Talwar, 1999; Winter, 2002) and often get exploited by hijras in hoarding money and other favours. Deviant behaviours and ambivalent appearance make others apprehensive and annoyed in interacting with hijras, therefore, lead towards negative attitude towards them (see Nanda, 1999; Sharma, 2000; Talwar, 1999).

The traditional role of hijras in Pakistan that is dancing, singing, and seeking wadhais [alms] at the birth of male child and wedding ceremony of sons, has deteriorated with the passage of time (Hossain, 2002; Riaz, 1996). Many have turned to begging, dancing in functions, performing in fairs, and sex business. Their traditional role was ruined through communalism having Western medicalised concept of ‘transgender’ (Roen, 2001) in which individual has to exact the binary division of gender and has to pass as either gender category (Cowan, 2005; Hird, 2002, Tolentino, 2000; Van Borsel, De Cuypere, & Van den Berghe, 2001), not as a third gender role (Nanda, 1999).

Pakistan has recently recognised the legal status of hijras as third gender category (Mukhanas [literal meaning triangle; see Teh, 2001]) implemented in January 2011 (see National Data Base Registration Authority [NADRA], Dec 16, 2010) after Supreme Court gave a historic decision on the petition when a few policemen tortured and raped group of hijras. Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered to exercise fair behaviour with hijras (Abid, 2009) and to create employment opportunities to which various organizations complied (Economic Times, Dec 23, 2009; NADRA, Dec 16, 2010). Mainstreaming of hijras is evident in Pakistani electronic media through talk shows, dramas, so as, that might lead towards their acceptance in changing scenario. For the first time, hijras also participated as candidates and voters in general body elections for National and Provincial Assembly held on 11th May 2013 in Pakistan with their third gender status (see e.g., Burke, May 9, 2013). Despite of such an historic action, in Pakistani law, no legal provision is present for hijras to go for changing sex or related rights and obligations (Jami, 2005). With such changing times, there is need to study attitudes that play important role in marginalization, stigmatization, and political standing of such a sexual minority.

Often discrimination of sexual minorities are religion based (Lovett & Mannie de Saxe, 2006). Negative attitude towards Lesbian Gays Bisexual and Transgenders (LGBT) is because of strong religious beliefs held by the people who consider them sinful and deviant (Crooks & Baur, 2005; Oswald & Culton, 2003). In Judeo-Christianity-Muslims, cross-dressing and homosexuality are strongly condemned (see Yip, 2007) and religious people have conservative views about sexuality and gender roles (Crooks & Baur, 2005). Rules are clearly set for dressing/gender roles in Islam. Cross-dressing (Sahi Bukhari, 1986, pp. 513-514; Sunnan-e-Ibne Maja, 1983, p. 533), effeminacy (Sahi Bukhari, 1986, p. 119; Mauta Imam Malik, 1979, p.557; Sunnan-e-Ibne Maja, 1983, p. 533), castration for abstaining from marrying (Sahi Bukhari, 1986, p. 8-9), sodomy (AlQuran 29:28-35), and homosexuality (see AlQuran 7:80-83; 15:51-77; 26:160-175; apkar pk, 1997, p. 75; Sahi Bukhari, 1986, p. 121-122; see also Yip, 2007) is strongly discouraged. Literature suggests that strength in religious practice is important indicator for influencing attitude towards sexual minorities and related experiences (Yip, 2007).

Religiosity defined as strength of religious, beliefs as expressed in attitudes subjective importance of religion and behaviour like church attendance (de Visser Smith, Richters, & Rissel, 2007) is often used for the validation of scales measuring attitudes related to sexuality (see e.g., Fisher & Hall, 1998; Fullard, Johnston, & Lief, 1998), transwomen (King, Winter, & Webster, 2009), homosexuality (Herek, 1998; Larsen, 1998; Zuckerman & Myers as cited in Zuckerman, 1998), LGBT (Oswald & Culton, 2003), sexual ideology (Lottes, 1998), and sexual polarity (Mosher, 1998) that yielded positive relationship between religiosity and conservative attitude towards these issues (also see de Visser et al., 2007). Church attendance/attending religious services (Denney, 2008; de Visser et al., 2007; Fisher & Hall, 1998; Fullard et al., 1998; Larsen as cited in Larsen, 1998), church affiliation (Zuckerman, Tushup, & Finner as cited in Zuckerman, 1998; Zuckerman & Myers as cited in Zuckerman, 1998), and importance of religion (Fullard et al., 1998) were taken to be indicator of religiosity for the validity purpose.

Besides religiosity, many demographic variables are related to attitude towards sexuality and transgenders. Patton and Mannison (1998) while measuring attitude towards sexuality and Hill and Willoughby (2005) for the validation of their Genderism and Transphobia Scale found significant gender differences (see also King et al., 2009). Men reported more genderism (sexism), transphobia, and gender bashing than women. Women have more modern and liberal gender role attitudes and sexuality and less rejecting towards homosexuality (see also Larsen et al. as cited in Larsen, 1998; White & Franzini, 1999) as compared to men. However, no gender differences were observed in attitude towards homosexuality by Zuckerman and Myers (as cited in Zuckerman, 1998). Since men undergo more sex-typed upbringing, they stick to traditional gender roles in Pakistan (Ahmed & Kamal, 2000; Anila, Khan, & Sabir, 1993; Khalid & Frieze, 2004), hence, get more disturbed by gender role violations than women (see Crooks & Baur, 2005; White & Franzini, 1999). Therefore, in the present study, we assume that men have more negative attitudes towards hijras than women for hijras violating gender norms.

Much is known and written about hijras in India (see e.g., Khan & Ayub, 2003; Nanda, 1999, 2008; Pande, 2004; Sharma, 2000; Talwar, 1999; Winter, 2002) whereas, very little research evidences are available about hijras in Pakistan (Haider & Bano, 2006). Available evidences pertain to prevalence of HIV/STDs where hijras are found to be high risk group being sodomites (Baqi, Shah, Baig, Mujeeb, & Memon, 1999; Bokhari et al., 2007; Hyder & Khan, 1998; Iqbal, 2001; Khan & Khilji, 2002; Khan, Rehan, Qayyum, & Khan, 2008; National AIDS Control Programme, Ministry of Health, 2008; Pakistan National AIDS Control Programme, 2002; Rajabali, Khan, Warraich, Khanani, & Ali, 2008; Rehan, 2006; Shafi, & Ali, 2006); a few unpublished work is also available (Khattak, 2004; Kiran, 2004; Malik, 2008; Riaz, 1996; Tasmeera, 2002), but none of these are focused at measuring attitudes towards hijras.

Need for Measuring Attitudes
Literature reveals that transpeople and other sexual minorities are being violently attacked (Harcourt, Ingrid van Beek, Heslop, McMahon, & Donovan, 2001; Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka [PUCL-K], Sep 2003). Family feels guilt, shame (Beh & Diamond, 2006), unacceptability, and embarrassment (Boellstroff, 2004; Reiner, 1996). Visibility of their interests and behaviours might lead to physical assault, victimization, and transphobia (Bettcher, 2007). Many (transpeople) experience torture from parents (Green, Brinkin, & HRC staff, Sep 1994; Little, 2001); negative attitudes underlie such discrimination and violence, therefore, they prefer to remain invisible and conceal their feminine interests (Murphy, 2001; Rankin, 2007; Weiss, 2007). Suicide, drug taking, alcohol abuse, and other risk taking behaviours are the consequences of people’s attitudes and discrimination (Eskin, Kaynak-Demir, & Demir, 2005; Green et al., Sep 1994, p. 9; Hillier, Mitchell, & Mulcare, 2008; Little, 2001; Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing, & Malouf, 2001; Miller, 2006; PUCL-K, Sep 2003). These attitudes are based on heteronormativity, as men having feminine features are often taken to be homosexuals (Semp, 2008).

Defining deviance is culture specific (Crooks & Baur, 2005; Sharma, 2000). In West, very negative attitude prevails for the individuals who show gender deviations and are taken to criminal prosecution (Wood as cited in Totman, 2003; Kessler & McKenna, 1978). Transphobia is also a cultural derivative (Norton, 1997) deeply embedded in values, beliefs, and ideologies that underlies attitude towards TG (Hill & Willoughby, 2005). Even in the countries with effective legislation and organizations by LGBT groups in favor of their rights hold negativity about LGBT (Ford Foundation, 2006). Nevertheless, certain researchers have found that transgenders enjoy better status in western countries (Alison, Belgrave, & Duff, 2006) and many have full time employment (Docter & Fleming, 2001). Does culture have any impact on acceptance and attitude towards hijras. This warrants the measures to be developed in cultural and indigenous context (Cass, 2005, 2006), as the same phenomenon may not be perceived in the similar way across cultures (see e.g., McLelland, 2002). As there is dearth of literature on hijras of Pakistan (Rajabali et al., 2008), therefore, present research is exploratory in nature aiming at developing a scale measuring attitudes towards hijras in Pakistani context.

Evidence of tripartite model based on past behaviour for measuring transphobia is available (see e.g., Hill & Willoughby, 2005), but in the present study three component model based on behavioural intentions was used for scale development, as attitude towards any social group may take the form of prejudice that is based on tripartite model proposed by Allport (as cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2005). It has three components cognitive, affective, and conative (intentions to act in a certain). The same was followed by King et al. (2009) in developing scale on transprejudice. This model is comparatively strong for not denying the link between belief, feeling, and behavioural system as in previous models (Maio et al., 2006), yet it considers behvaioural intentions that are found to predict future behaviour (see Hogg & Vaughan, 2005) extended towards social object.

King et al. (2009, p. 20) in developing scale for measuring prejudice against transgender in China introduced term “transprejudice”; Winter et al. (2009) has also used the concept of transacceptance (derivative of transpositivity) and transprejudice in factor analytic study expanded over seven nations for measuring prejudice against transwomen (male-to-female transgenders). Transphobia (derivative of homophobia [see Hudson & Ricketts, 1980] and homonegativism [White & Franzini, 1999]) is the term utilized about measuring negative attitudes—fear and hatred of transgender persons—about transperon. Since prejudice and phobia hold a negative connotation, therefore, in the present research we are focusing at concept of attitudes being a neutral term. Besides, previous measures are focusing at transgender/transpeople, while hijra is a cultural based phenomenon (third gender).

Much diversity exists in hijra community. Nevertheless, for common man the distinction between various categories within hijra community does not exist (Jami, 2005; Khan & Ayub, 2003; Khan et al., 2008; Rajabali et al., 2008; Riaz, 1996; Talwar, 1999). In Pakistan, generally, hijras are considered to be sexually deformed, physically ambivalent, and having both male and female qualities (Haider & Bano, 2006). Hijras have ambivalent physical appearance and behaviour that include men like physique, wearing vibrant colours, and gaudy makeup with noticeable beard underneath, emphasis on certain body parts (breasts, hips etc.), exaggerated feminine movements and gestures, use of obscene language, etc. (see Khan & Ayub, 2003; Sharma, 2000), showing their private parts in anger if refused alms (see Singh, 2001), so on.

Although, tools for measuring attitude related to transgenders are available as mentioned earlier, but for the hijras being a cultural specific phenomenon, it seems appropriate to develop separate valid and reliable scale to measure attitude towards them. The capability of attitude, measured through questionnaires, predicting the behaviour has shown the mixed results (see Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Hogg & Vaughan, 2005). Researchers have found that predictive power of an attitude scale increases if it increases in specificity (Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Hogg & Vaughan, 2005). For the validation purpose, on the basis of previous research aforementioned, it is assumed that those who practice religion more (offering prayers regularly/daily) have more negative attitudes and men have more negative attitudes towards hijras.


Development and validation of the attitude scale was planned in following two studies; study 1 was based on Scale Development and study 2 was based on establishing the role of gender and religiosity in attitudes towards hijra.

Study 1: Scale Development
Empirical approach was used in scale development (see Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010; Kline, 2005; Worthington, & Whittaker, 2006). Scale development was carried out in four phases.

Phase I: Focus group discussions (FGDs). Scarcity of available literature on hijra community of Pakistan led to the decision of conducting FGDs (see Krueger, 1988) to get first hand information about the attitudes of the people through an interactive process. Ten FGDs were conducted to explore peoples’ attitudes towards hijras and two FGDs were conducted, on the same parameters, with hijras of the hijra community (who were having role of guru and chela [mentor and disciple]) for exploration of hijras’ perception of those attitudes. The purpose behind focus groups with hijras was that the scale measuring attitude towards hijras developed in the present study was to be rephrased later for the development of Hijras’ Perception of the Attitudes Scale (see Jami, 2012) which might not be possible without considering the hijras’ perceptions of attitudes. Following methodology was followed for focus group conduction.

FGDs with general public. A ‘topic guide’ based on literature review was prepared that comprised of 29 questions. For example, what comes in your mind when you think about hijras? What are your related feelings? Report any incident that you remember based on interaction with any hijra? Probing questions were also generated under each question for getting a breath of responses. By the end of the last FGD, 36 probing questions based on 6 broad categories had been explored including: 1) General outlook of hijras as perceived by the participant; 2) positive or negative features attached with their existence for example, effect in their blessing and curse, sexuality; 3) beliefs and feelings related to transgenderism; 4) perceived social distance from hijras; 5) social approval and acceptance; and 6) basic human rights and status.

For sample selection, age, gender, marital status, socioeconomic status, and geographic locations particularly focusing at level of interaction (see King et al., 2009; Nanda, 1999; Sharma, 2000) with hijras were considered important for that might create meaningful differences in responses. Convenience sampling was used for selection of the participants. Five FGDs were conducted with women (3 of house wives’ and 2 of students’ of social sciences having Psychology as their major and minor subjects) and 5 with men (one each of retired government personnel, Maulvis/ Muftis [religious preachers], peons/lascars and sweeper, natural sciences students having engineering as main subject, social sciences students having anthropology as major course). Number of participants in these focus groups varied from 6-9 participants. Total 71 participants participated in all (for other details consult first author). The best efforts were made to have as homogenous groups as possible.

Non-directive moderating approach was utilized in conducting the FGD in a structured format. FGDs were conducted till similar responses started emerging in the discussions. Verbal responses were written and audio-recorded. Three research assistants, having Master’s degree in Psychology, at different occasions assisted in noting down the responses. The first author of the study played the role of moderator in discussion. Every focus group took 1 ½ to 2 hrs. for its completion

FGDs with hijras of hijra community. Snowball sampling was used for sample selection. Two FGDs were conducted in Mandi Taban Singh, Sheikhupura. Participants were all khusras (a gendered category in hijra community who have undergone naravan [emasculation/castration] claiming to be asli [original hijra born with sexual deformities]). They were either in the role of guru or chela. All were from the same caste in hijra community that is Peshaweriyay. First FGD was conducted with the 5 khusras who have yet not performed Haj [pilgrimage in Holy city of Makkah] having age 17-35 years residing in Hasanabdal and Attock. They were chelas of the same guru. Second FGD was conducted with 8 Khusras, all hajis [who have performed pilgrimage in Holy city of Makkah] with age between 40-98 years. All were gurus residing in different areas of Punjab. Same FGD guide that was utilized in FGDs with general public was used, but questions were rephrased to explore hijras perception of people/society’s attitudes (for details see Jami, 2012). In the end an amount of 2000/- rupees for the each FGDs was paid. Integrity and privacy of members of FGDs was ensured to avoid any harm to them (see Brinkmann & Kvale, 2008; Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2006). Both FGDs were concluded after request of the participants within 30 min. each.

Phase II: Generation of items. After transcribing the verbatim, content analysis was done for items generation. Initially, 242 items were generated. Only those items which were showing overlapping responses among both types of groups were retained. Items generated were related to people’s opinion related to hijras’ general outlook; their gender role; sexuality related issues like STDs/AIDS and homosexuality; level of social acceptance; their rights and opportunities in life; so on. FGDs helped in generating content for items, while tripartite model of attitude helped in devising nature of items as cognitive, affective, and conative.

Content analysis of FGDs with hijras revealed that people are unable to differentiate between real hijras (khusras) and zannanas [cross-dressers who can be homosexuals]. As reported by the participants, since zannanas are involved in sex business, therefore, people’s attitudes have become more negative over passage of time. That is why it deemed important that question related to who are hijras, with three options a) those born with sexual deformities (hermophrodity/intersexed); b) only those men who behave like women (male-to-female TGs); and c) both, was made part of the scale to delineate better analysis on the basis of people’s beliefs about hijras, while responding to the scale.

Phase III: Committee approaches. Three Subject Matter Experts (see Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010; Kline, 2005; Worthington & Whittaker, 2006), in the field of test construction, having M.Phil Degree in Psychology, were involved in selection of items from item pool. Initially, they recommended 86 items, which were reduced to 69 items by removing double-barreled and overlapping items in another committee meeting based on one Ph.D. psychologist and two M.Phil scholars in Psychology. Finally, an initial form for measuring the attitude towards hijras was developed and put to exploratory factor analysis in next phase.

Phase IV: Pretesting. After finalization of the items, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was run to study the structure of the scale.

Sample. It consisted of 350 individuals with age 18-65 years (M = 25.6; SD = 5.4). Data were 5 times greater than the total number of items (see Field, 2005). Inclusion criteria for sample selection were minimum education 10th grade and age 18 years. Convenience sampling was utilized as a technique for sample selection. Demographic distribution of sample showed 166(47.4%) male participants and 184(52.6%) female participants; as per education 62(17.7%) had education till 10th grade; 78(22.3%) high secondary school; 113(32.3%) graduate, 95(27.1%) post-graduate; as per marital status, 165(47.1%) were married and 184(52.6%) were unmarried; out of 165 married participants 141(85.4%) had children and 31(14.6%) did not have children. The frequency of interaction with hijras showed that 12(3.4%) reported that they had never met/seen hijras, 169(48.3%) reported seeing/meeting once in a year, 102(29.1%) once in a month, 41(11.7%) weekly, and 26(7.4%) daily. As per practicing religion, 305(87.1%) were not offering prayers and 45(12.9%) offered prayers daily. None of the participants had any relation within hijra community.

Initial from of the scale. It was a five point Likert type scale having 69 items with response categories strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1). Instructions emphasized that the “main purpose of the scale is to determine attitude towards hijras who belong to hijra community asking wadhais/alms and have a dancing and singing role. It does not include those who are living in their homes with their families and leading normal life like other citizens of the country, pursuing any career, or taking education in any educational institute”.

Procedure. Participants were informed about the objectives of the research. They were requested to sign the informed consent form if they agreed to participate. They were requested to follow the instructions carefully, while responding to the items. Complete confidentiality and anonymity was assured and that data would be used for research purpose only. Their comments regarding items were also sought in the end of questionnaire. Participants did not find any difficulty in responding to items and took 15 min. to complete it. Data were analyzed through SPSS 16.

Results. Widely used empirical method for scale development was used to form the homogenous item groupings (Worthington & Whittaker, 2006).

Factor analysis. For structuring and reducing the number of items of the scale EFA was run. Kaiser-Meyers-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy (KMO) was .768 and Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity was 6912.24 (df = 2346, p < .000) that showed sampling adequacy (N = 350) to run EFA. KMO achieved shows that correlations are compact enough to generate distinct and reliable factors. The large value of chi-square suggests that correlation matrix is not an identity matrix and values are positively correlated with each other. The KMO for each item was greater than .50 (ranging from .522-.874) in anti- image, which shows that sample is adequate for a given pair of items, therefore, all items can be included in EFA (Field, 2005). Initial commonalities achieved also equaled to 1.

Initially 23 factors were suggested with eigen values more than 1. The Scree Plot (see Cattell as cited in Kim & Muller, 1987) suggested 5 factors solution with eigen values more than 2, after which the lines tapered off along horizontal axis. All items were correlated. Item total correlation ranged from .11-.54 (p < .05-.01), therefore, Oblique rotation using different solutions were tried by fixing number of factors to 5, 4, and 3 factor solutions. Finally, 3 factor solution was found to be more meaningful with eigen-values of three factors were 5.84, 3.44, and 2.39 with % of variance 17.70, 10.43, and 7.24 for factors I, II, and III, respectively. Cumulative percent variance of 35.36 in total variance presents better picture than four factors and showing more distinct factor structure. Inclusion criteria for final selection of items for each factor were:

  1. Items with .40 and more factor loadings; not loaded on two or more than two factors;
  2. Items having double loading more than .35 were discarded.
  3. Compatibility/face validity of the item with the content of the respective factor was also considered.

Final resultant is 33 items out of 69 loading on three factors as shown in Table 1 with factor loading more than .35.

Table 1:
Factor Loadings of 33 items through Principal Component
Analysis by Using Direct Oblimion Method (N = 350)

Note. Only factor loadings in acceptable range are given. Boldface are the items having acceptable
factor loadings on a respective factor as per defined criteria. Factor I = Rights and Status
Factor II = Social Distance; Factor III = Sexual Issues

Table 1 shows no double loadings more than .32 that emerged on more than one factor (Costello & Osborne, 2005). Four items, 3 in Factor I and one in Factor III are having factor loadings less than .40, still emerging on expected factors. Therefore, these are accepted at criteria of .35 factor loadings.

Item-to-total correlations. To further establish the construct validity of the scale, item-to-total correlations were calculated using Pearson Product Moment Correlations. Here, total score is of sum of scores on 33 items which were selected in EFA. Item-total correlations of all items are significantly correlating with the sum of total items at p < .000 level ranging from .26-.56, except item no. 33 (in final form) of the Factor I that has also low factor loading on respective factor. Therefore, this is sufficient evidence excluding this item in the final form of the scale. For Factor I having 13 items (excluding item 24 in initial form), item-to-total correlation ranged from .21 to .50; for Factor II (8 items) it was .30 to .54; and for Factor III (11 items), it was .32 to .56 at p < .000.

Content validity. Selected items were given to 5 PhD students in Psychology to assign name to 3 factors on the basis of content to ensure content and face validity. They were asked to suggest the most relevant title on the basis of content of each factor. After their judgments, Factor I was named as ‘Rights and Status’ (RS) referred to the beliefs, feelings, behaviours, and behavioural intentions extended towards providing basic human rights to hijras including right for gender identity; mental and physical health facilities; educational and occupational opportunities; and right to be loved and accepted. This included 13 items (no. 7, 8, 9, 10, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 in final versionnnn).

Factor II was termed as ‘Social Distance’ (SD) referred to how much closeness a person can accept in having any relationship with hijras for example as a neighbour, colleague, relative, interacting or talking to or about them, accepting as a leader in electoral process, so on. This included 11 items (no. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 26 in final version).

Factor III was named as ‘Sexual Issues’ (SI) referred to the attitudes towards different sexual issues related to hijras like promiscuous behaviour, spreading HIV/STDs and homosexuality, indulging in sex business, transgenderism, etc. It included 8 items (no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 in final version). On the basis of three component model of attitudes based on behavioural intentions (Allport as cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2005), 8 items (items 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 32) pertained to behavioural intentions and remaining revolved around cognitive, feeling, and behavioural components.

Final form of the scale. Finally, the resultant was Attitude towards Hijra Scale (AHS) with 32 items having scoring categories strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1). Out of these 15 were reverse scoring items (items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 20, 23, and 26). Minimum score achieved could be 32 and maximum 160. High score represented more positive attitude towards hijras. The purpose of the scale was to measure attitudes towards those hijras only who are member of hijra community (having role of chela, guru, or both).

Psychometric characteristics. For the reliability and construct validity, Cronbach Alphas and inter-subscale correlations and correlations of the subscales with the total score were computed through Pearson Product Moment Correlation. Before carrying out analysis, Test of Normality was run for AHS and its subscales as well. AHS and its subscales fulfilled the assumption of normality except for Rights and Status subscale. It showed five outliers. These outliers were fixed before running analysis for Rights and Status. Later Test of Normality was again run that showed improved fitness. Afterwards, for Rights and Status only the correlations were computed on data of 345 than 350.

Cronbach alpha for total AHS was found to be .85, and for subscales .80, .81, and .73 for Rights and Status, Social Distance, and Sexual Issues, respectively. Correlation coefficients of each subscale with total score ranged from .69-.81 at p < .000. The inter-subscale correlation was .22 between Sexual Issues and Rights and Status; .31 between Social Distance and Rights and Status; and .37 Social Distance and Sexual Issues at p < .000. All subscales were significantly positively correlated showing that these measure the same construct that is attitude towards hijras of hijra community, hence, ensuring the construct validity of AHS.

Study 2: Role of Gender and Religiosity
Concept of extreme/comparison group was utilized as indicator of construct validity (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010) for role of gender and religiosity in attitudes.

Sample. Data of 186 university students with age range between 20-25 years (M = 23, SD = 0.07) were collected from three public universities of Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Convenience sampling was used. Education level, age, and marital status were controlled. All students were studying at M.Sc. level. Out of total sample 83 (44.6%) were male students and 103 (55.4%) were female students; 120 (64.5%) were from social sciences and 66 (35.5%) from natural sciences in area of discipline; all were unmarried; residents of Islamabad. All students were Muslims.

Instruments. Following instruments were used:

Attitude towards Hijra Scale (AHS). Information is same as reported earlier as Final Form of Scale.

Demographic Sheet. A detailed demographic sheet for getting information along gender, age, family’s monthly income, marital status, study’s discipline, frequency of interaction with hijra, and perception about who are hijras. As indicator of religiosity no. of prayers offered daily, fasting in holy month of Ramadhan [ninth month of Islamic year], and paying Zakat [offering 2.5% of share in property to poor people] rated as 0 for do not offer to 5 regularly offer were used.

Procedure. Prior to data collection permission from administration of each department of respective universities was sought. Data were personally collected by the first author in group setting. Participants were told about aim of the research and their related queries were addressed. Participants signed consent form for the willing participation in the study. As phenomenon under study was quite new for the participants and none of the students had ever been part of any research about hijras, so it appeared to be quite an interesting activity to them. It took around 15 minutes to respond.


Psychometric properties. Cronbach alphas and inter-subscale correlations were computed to ascertain the psychometric properties of AHS. Descriptive statistics were computed on transformed scores.

Table 2:
Correlation Coefficients, Alpha Reliability Coefficients, and Descriptives
for AHS and Subscales (N = 186)

**p < .000

Alpha coefficients for the total scale and its subscales are good (Table 2). Subscale to total correlations and inter-subscale correlations are significant at p < .000 that reflect the internal consistency of the scale and a measure of construct validity. Overall attitudes take on almost neutral value, however, these are negative regarding social distance and sexual issues that is people are less accepting of hijras in close relationship and also consider them as sexual deviants. nevertheless, mean of Rights and Status subscale shows acceptance of hijras’ rights and mainstreaming their status.

Gender differences. Independent sample t-test was carried out to study the difference among male (n = 83) and female (n = 103) participants on AHS.

Table 3:
Gender Differences on AHS (N = 186)

Note. CI = Confidence Interval; LL = Lower Limit; UL = Upper Limit

Significant difference between both groups is observed in Table 3. Female students display significantly more positive attitude than male students on AHS and its subscales. For over all AHS, Cohen’s d is showing high effect size. While, among subscales Sexual Issues and Social Distance are having high effect sizes followed by Rights and Status of hijras in middle range for differentiating among two groups.

People’s belief about “who are hijras?” Out of the total sample (N = 186), five did not respond to this question.

Those who believe that hijras are hermaphrodite/intersexed are 107(59%); both hermaphrodite/intersexed and male-to-female TGs are 73(41%); and male-to-female TGs only is 1(.006%). Most of the participants believe that hijras are those who are born with sexual deformities. Chi-square was computed to see the gender differences on concept of hijra for the participants. Since only one person reported that hijras are only male-to-female TGs, therefore, for

analysis this does not seem to be meaningful to include that case in the analysis. Six participants did not answer to the question, therefore, analysis is done on N = 180. For this, 2x2 chi-square was done comparing gender along two categories that is those who believe that they are hermaphrodite/intersexed and who believe that they are both male-to-female TGs and hermaphrodite/intersexed individuals. Results reveal significant difference with χ2 = 9.3, p = .002, having female participants 70(65.4%) believing that they are hermaphrodite/ intersexed, against 37(34.6%) of male participants, while male participants believe vice versa that is hijras include both male-to- female TGs and hermaphrodite/intersexed individuals with 42(57.5%) against female participants 31(42.5%). This shows that more women believe that they are hermaphrodite/intersexed than men.

Fig. 1: Concept of hijras for the participants of the study (N = 181)

Interaction with hijras. Out of the total sample of 186 university students, 8.1% saw/met hijras on daily basis, 25.3% weekly, 30.1% monthly, 31.7% yearly, and 4.8% reported that they have never seen a hijra in their life. Chi-square was computed to see the gender differences on level of interaction with hijras. Level of interaction with hijra is categorized in three groups. Those who meet/see Frequently (n = 61) on weekly to daily basis, Occasionally (n = 57) meeting/seeing hijras on monthly basis, and Rarely (n = 68) on yearly and less basis. For this 2x3 chi-square was done. Results reveal significant difference with χ2 = 16.1, p = .000, having female participants meeting/seeing hijras rarely 45(66.2%) comparing to male participants meeting/seeing hijras frequently 40(65.6%). It is vice versa in the other direction, with female participants frequently meeting/seeing hijras 21(34.4%) and men rarely 23(33.8%). This shows that more men meet frequently with hijras than women.

Moreover, Pearson Product Moment correlation was also computed to ascertain the relationship between attitudes and interaction with hijras. Level of interaction is taken as continuous variable as 5-point scale ranging from daily (1) to not at all (5). Nonsignificant correlation is observed for Rights and Status and Social Distance subscales, however, it is significant for overall AHS (r = .15, p < .04) and Sexual Issues subscales (r = .21, p < .01). Although correlation is weak, yet it shows that with decrease in interaction, attitudes gets positive including considering hijras as less sexual deviants.

Religiosity. To establish validity through differentiating along religiosity, concept of extreme group was utilized that is carrying out independent sample t-test to differentiate among those who offer salat daily 5 times (n = 36) and those who do not offer prayers at all (n = 58) in the sample of 186 participants. Earlier Fasting in the holy month of Ramadhan and Zakat were also taken to be indicator of religiosity as these also come under the category of Faraiz [must to perform]. For Zakat, participants reported that it were their parents who offer these being earning members, but not they being students. For Fasting, 60% reported that they offer regularly, while 22% did not report on this item, therefore, it was not included in the analysis. Otherwise too, common observation is that people often fast regularly regardless they are offering prayers daily or not. For difference in attitudes along religiosity see Table 4.

Table 4:
Differences between Those Who Don’t Offer Prayers and Those
Who Offer Prayers Five Times a Day on AHS (N = 96)

Note. CI = Confidence interval; LL = Lower limit; UL = Upper limit

Significant differences are observed between two groups on AHS and its subscales in Table 4. Effect sizes are large for AHS and Sexual Issues, but medium for remaining subscales. Those who offer prayers 5 times a day have more negative attitude than those who do not offer prayers.


Although, hijras are visible third gender role in Pakistan, but literature review suggests dearth of related research evidences. Little research in this area may be because of stigma associated with nonheterosexual identity and behaviour that discourages researchers to do research on LGBTs (Hughes & Eliason, 2002). It is extremely difficult to conduct such research in Islamic cultures (Eskin et al., 2005) where many sexual issues are declared as haram [religiously disapproved] or that lead such behaviours to go unattended (Rajabali et al., 2008) or tabooed. Lack of standard terms and definitions of multidimensional constructs of gender identity and sexual orientation complicate the estimation of LGBTs in different areas (Myer, Salenzio, Wolfe, & Dunn, as cited in Hughes & Eliason, 2002) that may become a difficult task to bring in researchers’ attention. Although, binary classification of gender does not recognize a third gender category making the transgender status of hijras a legal nonentity (PUCL-K, Sep 2003), nevertheless, in Pakistan hijras have legally attained third gender role that demand attention of researchers. Insufficient research literature led to the decision of conducting FGDs for scale development. This is a widely used method in sequential exploratory research designs for the development of the scale (Hanson, Creswell, Clark, Petska, & Creswell, 2005).

Focus groups were conducted with both general people and hijras as the purpose was also to rephrase AHS to measure perception of attitudes by hijras later (see Jami, 2012). Adam, Braun, and McCreanor (2008) stressed the significance of consulting or having input from the communities in making health policy documents, position statements, and research papers for which these were developed. Hence, it deemed important to conduct FGDs with hijras as well to develop AHS. In FGDs, hijras maintained that people cannot differentiate among various types of hijras (e.g., khusras and zannanas) which is leading towards judging all with same lens (see also Haider & Bano, 2006).

Therefore, to increase specificity of AHS one question was made the permanent part of the scale in demographic sheet about people’s perception of “who are hijras?” Findings also revealed that out of 181 individuals in sample of Study 2, most of the participants believed that hijras are hermaphrodites/intersexed (commonly known as khusras); very few believed that they are only male-to-female transgenders (zannanas). This shows that people still have stereotypic beliefs (also see Sharma, 2000; Talwar, 1999; Winter, 2002) and misconceptions about hijras that they are born with sexual deformities (Haider & Bano, 2006; Riaz, 1996). Contrarily, Riaz (1996) did not find in her research any hermaphrodite/intersexed individual as member of hijra community (see also for other communities Boellstroff, 2004; McLelland, 2002; Teh, 2001; Totman, 2003). This prevailing concept is may be because hijras strongly portray this identity (Jami, 2005). Since, people do not interact frequently with hijras, therefore, this belief is not challenged because of lack of information.

Currently, Oblique rotation using Direct Oblimion method with Principal Component Analysis for the extraction of meaningful factors in the scale was used (Field, 2005; Guertin & Bailey, 1970; Kim & Muller, 1987), which is better in social sciences as latent variables cannot be uncorrelated and are correlated to some extent. Principle Component Analysis is widely used though it is not a factor analysis technique in true sense. It is a data reduction technique (Costello & Osborne, 2005; Field, 2005). Other researchers have also used the same method for factors extraction through EFA (see Hill & Willoughby, 2005; King et al., 2009; Winter, 2007; Winter et al., 2009).

During pretesting phase of scale development (N = 350), 48.3% of the participants reported having very low interaction level with hijras that is seeing or meeting on yearly basis against 11.7% and 7.4% weekly and daily basis, respectively. Same was the observation of data of validation study (N = 186). Initially in data collection, a few of individuals refused to respond for not knowing much about hijras and those who responded also reported that they did not have much interaction and had very little knowledge about this community. As per previous researches (Sharma, 2000; see Totman, 2003 for Kathoey of Thailand), sexual minorities are marginalized and isolated from the rest of the society that reduces the interaction between two distinct cultures that is society and sexual minorities (like hijra community). Strength and accessibility of attitude is based on level of interaction and experience with the social object (see Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Hogg & Vaughan, 2005; King et al., 2009; Maio et al., 2006). Therefore, it was appropriate to follow tripartite component model based on behavioural intentions than past behaviour in scale development where it was anticipated that interaction would be low.

Overall content of AHS, revealed that only those items were included empirically that did not refer to transgendered status of hijras. In the initial form of the scale having 69 items, 5 items were purely referring to hijras’ transgendered status that is allowing a man who feels happy and comfortable in attaining female outlook; cross- gendered behaviour in men is because of their sexual, economic, and social problems; men who behave or portray like hijras must be punished; and acceptance for the one who wants to become hijra in family. These items did not emerge with high factor loadings on either factor. While some items referring to their third gender status emerged in the final form e.g., they should be declared as third gender; because of no gender identity they feel frustrated; their part in inheritance should be based on the gender they have opted to live; so on.

Some of the items were referring to hijras’ cultural context for example, they earn through easy ways, therefore, not interested to do any respectable job; they are isolated from society to play their specific role; one can expect any vulgarity from them; God has admonished them for intentionally changing their gender and going against nature. These characteristics of the Scale in cultural context are making it different from other available attitude scales for transgenders (Hill & Willoughby, 2005; King et al., 2009; Winter, 2007; Winter et al., 2009). Evidently, hijras are not considered as violating binary division of gender deviants, but as unique gender category. That may be the reason that hijras have attained third gender status in Pakistan without much voices raised against this historic decision. The binary classification of gender does not recognize a third gender category that makes the transgender status of an individual a legal nonentity (PUCL-K, Sep 2003), but not in Pakistan.

Alison et al. (2006) on the basis of their research posited that visibility might lead to mainstreaming. While, Miller (2006) considers that an increase in the visibility of transgender people, whether in the clinical setting or the wider community, may not bring about understanding and acceptance. However, Sharma (2000) posited that in western countries, transsexuals can easily live in mainstream for their ability to pass as a woman, but hijras are quite visible and people never perceive them as woman as they look very different.

Out of three factors generated after EFA, first factor was named as Rights and Status, as items included referred to attitudes related to right for identity; mental and physical health facilities; educational and occupational opportunities; and right to be loved. Evidence of civil rights related subscale is also available in other measures related to attitudes towards transwomen (see King et al., 2009). Although, people do not offer their services to transgenders to avoid the stigma (Green et al., Sep 1994), yet have sympathies for them for not having basic human rights that was manifested in the FGDs and high mean on this subscale (N = 186). This may be the reason that Rights and Status took the maximum variance in AHS.

Predicament is that hijras do not have uniformed opinion about their sex. Some believe that they are women and some believe that they are neither man nor woman. Such uncertainty effect the provision of human rights to hijras (Talwar, 1999) and people remain confused about their status, which may give rise to distant feelings from them. Otherwise, being Muslim, a downward comparison approach is often employed that encourages talking about others’ basic rights being human. Findings showed (Table 3 & 4) less significant difference on attitudes related to hijras’ rights and status among more religious and less religious group and also among men and women than on other subscales. Nevertheless, ones’ transgendered status (Lombardi et al., 2001; Pratt & Buzwell, 2006) aggravate negative climate against LGBT and infringement of legal rights (Oswald & Culton, 2003).

Second subscale was Social Distance, it referred to how much closeness a person can accept in having any relationship with hijras for example, as a neighbour, colleague, class-fellow, relative, interacting or talking to or about them, so on. Evidence of such dimension is also available in previous measures (see King et al., 2009). Mean on this subscale (N = 186) showed negative attitudes prevailing along this subscale. The acceptable level of closeness to hijras might vary from person to person depending upon underlying concerns as reproduced in FGDs. For example, the ambivalent social status of hijras in Indian society is reflected by the fact that they are not allowed to meet bride at the time of wedding to protect her from the hijras infertility (Nanda, 1999). If people give away alms, it is only because of the fear to avoid their curse and get good wishes (see Nanda, 1999; Sharma, 2000; Talwar, 1999). Accepting any hijra within family and by people becomes a hard reality, as stigma of asexuality and infertility has strong negative social implication in Pakistan. People avoid hijras for this stigma or for their ability to curse for childlessness at any point in time, if their demands are not complied with (see Sharma, 2000).

Third subscale was Sexual Issues referring to the attitudes towards different sexual issues attached with hijras for example, related to AIDS/STDs, sex business, homosexuality, promiscuity, so on. Such items are also part of other measures, but in AHS it has appeared as a complete subscale may be because standards of sexuality are much stringent in Islam and sexual deviances are looked down upon. The same was finding in Study 2 and also establishes the construct validity of AHS based on comparison groups (see Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010). The mean on this subscale for overall sample was also low showing negative attitudes (N = 186). Those who are more religious have more negative attitudes than those who are practicing religion less as reflected by effect-size. This finding has a lot of research support (see e.g., Crooks & Baur, 2005; Oswald & Culton, 2003; Yip, 2007). Underlying reasons might be the religious teachings that do not accept gender deviance. Hijras are considered to be HIV risk group being sodomites and involved in sex work (see e.g., Nemoto, Luke, Mamo, Ching, & Patria, 1999; PUCL-K, Sep 2003). Mandatory AIDS test for hijras declaring them as high risk group has further strengthened the negative attitudes and stigmatization. Heterosexism and homophobia are extracted as leading underlying cause for negative attitudes (Adam et al., 2008).

People generally blame hijras for the spread of certain serious social problems like homosexuality or sex business. Within hijra community, zannanas’ cross-dressing is mostly to earn money or for sexual gratification. Khusras also have sexual relationships. They have Girya [in language of hijra community means “boy friend”] with whom they may or may not have sexual relationship for years (see Jami, 2005, 2012; Riaz, 1996). Since distinction between khusras and zannanas does not exist generally for people, therefore, the attitudes in the scale are targeting hijras as community regardless of their type. However, the question “who are hijras” mentioned earlier sound logical to be made part of the questionnaire to delineate attitudes based on people’s belief about hijras that may increase predictability in behaviour by increasing specificity in attitudes with respect to belief in type of hijra that is intersexed/hermaphrodite or cross- dresser. Nevertheless, separate measures can also be developed in future for zannanas or khusras.

Reliability estimates of AHS were found to be very satisfactory and inter-subscale correlations and subscale-total correlations were found to be highly significant that ensure the construct validity of the scale measuring attitude towards hijras of hijra community. Strongest relationship exist between Sexual Issues and Social Distance, which shows that with more strong belief that hijras are not responsible for spread of AIDS/HIV and homosexuality, one also have more acceptability of hijra in close relationships. Cross-dressing is often associated with homosexuality (Green et al., Sep 1994). Cross-dressing is acceptable till it does not violate social norms, but it harbours hostility if it challenges heterosexuality. Sexuality is acceptable in folklores and myths but not in actual life (Pande, 2004). There are countries where trasnssexuals are legally allowed to marry, but homosexuality is still unacceptable, though evident in society otherwise (Yue, 2007). Same is true in Pakistani context, homosexuality does exist, but belief that such relationships are haram makes it to go underground (Rajabali et al., 2008). Homosexuals attain role of hijra in hijra community to satisfy their sexual desires and remain invisible for society, in general. Being hijra for them is just like passing to protect and exercise their sexual orientation. In a way, homosexuality is performed by zannanas in backdrop of hijra community because of lack of social acceptance and the portrayal of being hemphrodite/intersexed by hijras overshadow this aspect of them. That is why people in Pakistan are not aware of gender diversity existing in hijra community, because of lack of interaction with them. Visibility of transgenders depends upon attitude and support from others (Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Smith, 2002) as effects of visibility can be devastating (Green et al., Sep 1994).

British colonies have decriminalized sodomy laws, but India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Singapore are a few Asian countries which still has sodomy laws (Talwar, 1999) and in many cultures this is considered as sinful and immoral (Crooks & Baur, 2005). The celebrations thrown by US Embassy in Pakistan in the favour of LGBTs on 26th July 2011 to solemnize US agenda of strengthening human rights regardless of gender and sexual orientation in Pakistan (see Embassy of the United States, Islamabad. Pakistan, June 26, 2011) was taken very negatively among religious groups, media, and masses on the whole. Contrary to this, the reaction on registering hijras as third gender by NADRA did not receive that much negative reaction rather people were more sympathetic for their right of identity and appreciated this move of mainstreaming hijras by giving employment in a more respectful way. This shows that for Pakistanis sexuality is more important than gender and they do respect hijras’ rights. Ambivalent attitude towards hijras, an amalgam of contempt and respect (see Sharma, 2000), can also be observed in current study.

As an evidence of construct validity (see Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010) of AHS, men had more negative attitudes towards hijras than women. Many researches related to transgender and sexual issues support this finding (see e.g., Hill & Willoughby, 2005; King et al., 2009; Larsen, 1998; Patton & Mannison, 1998; White & Franzini, 1999). More negative attitude displayed by men may be because men interact with hijras more as evident in present study. Men have much idea about hijras’ sexual activities and contradiction in hijras’ actual and claimed identity by virtue of their interaction, while women may experience ambivalence in responding and show acceptance because of lack of knowledge and nurturing qualities. Results in the present study also revealed that lack of interaction related significantly with positive attitudes including related to hijras’ sexual issues for overall sample (N = 186). As people are not aware of their sexual activities because of lack of interaction, therefore, they cannot visualise the presence of sexual practices in the community. Results also revealed that women interact less that may be another factor for positive attitude reflected on this domain.

Nurturance and sympathetic and caring approach of women for marginalised and ostracised hijras is may be because of women’s own lowered status in the patriarchal society that make them more empathic in their approach towards suffering of the people. Women’s positive attitudes may also be because of more stereotypic belief in hijras being hermaphrodite/intersexed than male-to-female transgenders as compare to men, this finding is also evident in the present study. Findings reveal that overall most of the people believe that hijras are true hermaphrodite/intersexed (original) than transgenders that too more women believe so. Therefore, for future research, it is suggested to develop scale based on knowledge about hijra community and its relationship with attitudes can be studied with reference to level of interaction and contact with hijras and stereotypic belief in them (see e.g., King et al., 2009).


Although many suggestions are incorporated in discussion like developing measure to study knowledge base about hijras and develop specific scales to measure attitudes towards zannanas and khusras. Besides these, confirmatory factor analysis is also suggested for AHS for the future research. Sample for EFA was only 5 times greater than total number of items; the results could have much clear picture if the data were large. For validation study (N = 186) was too less to carry out CFA.

Data of present study were collected before Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 and present move towards hijras’ mainstreaming. Attitudes can be studied on larger and representative sample to see if any difference emerged because of the changed scenario. Sample for validation study was young educated university students selected through convenience sampling; therefore, we should be cautious enough to interpret findings. In future, representative sample through random sampling can be used to study attitudes to ensure external validity.

Further role of education, age, religious orientation, so on. as validity indices of AHS and as underlying reasons for the attitudes can be studied. People in a study related intrinsic orientation with spirituality, while outward social activity as religion (Mabey, 2007).

Therefore, it is suggested to study role of religious orientation other than religiosity in attitudes for future studies.

Men and religious people have more negative attitudes towards hijras that may be affected by people’s believe in “who is hijra?” and level of interaction with hijras which needs to be explored through studing their interaction effect on attitudes towards hijras by using AHS. Large percentage in the current sample interacted rarely with hijras. This warrants the significance of studying stereotypes and myths related to hijra.

Unlike West, North America (Kessler & McKenna, 1978), Asian subcontinent (Pande, 2004), and Far East countries like Thailand (Totman, 2003) are often credited for their acceptance of alternative gender possibilities (in the form of Bardache, Hijras, and Kathoey), hence, giving a selective degree of personal freedom to sexual minorities. Generally, East is considered to be more accommodative of gender diversity (Nanda, 1999). According to Foucault (as cited in Marsh, 2007, p. 104), “eastern thought can make the western thought to find the new way”. Nevertheless, the rights transgenders and homosexuals are exacting in western culture posit much brighter picture to those who are carrying out research in eastern cultures (Talwar, 1999). Marsh (2007) suggests that queers can meet in cross- cultural spaces. Therefore, cross-cultural researches are suggested to ascertain differences in attitudes to facilitate hijras in achieving their rights based on cross-cultural research evidences.


Masculinity in females is more acceptable than femininity in males (Rees, 1996; Smith, 2002; Smith, van Goozen, Kuiper, Verschoor, & Cohen-Kettenis, 2002). Therefore, a scale for measuring attitude towards hijras only was a fruitful effort. Although, latest approach to study attitudes is implicit association tests (see Ahmed & Kamal, 2000; Aidman & Carroll, 2003; Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Hogg & Vaughan, 2005; Maio et al., 2006) still Likert type scale is a widely used technique for data collection form large sample (see e.g., Antoszewski, Kasielska, Jedrzejczak, & Kruk- Jeromin, 2007; Hill & Willoughby, 2005; King et al., 2009; Lombardi et al., 2001; McCommon, Knox, & Schacht, 2004; Shaw & Wright, 1967; Winter, 2007; Winter et al., 2008; Winter et al., 2009).

Attitudes hold great significance in the lives of people, especially, who experience gender or sex related issues. Fear and hesitation exist on both ends that is between society and hijra community (Tasmeera, 2002). Social acceptance and rights granted by the society is an important prognostic factor in the treatment of individuals with gender identity disorder (Antoszewski et al., 2007). Fikar and Keith (2004) noted that not only do LGBT health care workers need information about taking care of their patients, they also require the knowledgebase necessary to help them in dealing with the persistent societal misconceptions and stigmatization that all LGBT persons routinely encounter. Presently, there is a move towards mainstreaming hijras and defining their legal rights. AHS can be used by government and nongovernment organizations to study attitudes towards hijras, for the successful implementation of any programme for their welfare and mainstreaming.

Better attitude leads to better practice. Effective health promotion for any group is dependent upon a detailed understanding of their culture, social practices (Adam et al., 2008; Kane, 2006), and people’s opinion and attitudes. Attitudinal scales are often used for counseling purpose to facilitate adjustment and productivity (Kline, 2005) and AHS being a valid and reliable measure can readily be used for such purpose.

The need of such measures is also demand of health service providers because of specific health related needs of gender variant people (Adam et al., 2008; Ford Foundation, 2006; Kane, 2006). This would also help in a way to determine perception of people’s attitudes by hijras after rephrasing AHS (see e.g., White & Franzini, 1999). Quantitative measure like AHS could facilitate in studying relationship of attitudes with other constructs and perception of the attitudes (see Bohner & Wanke, 2002).

Although, hijras are visible third gender role in Pakistan, but literature review suggests dearth of related research evidences. Current study may act as a milestone for young researchers to take up research projects to understand third gender in Pakistan and address their problems and issues in perspective. In a way, this research would help in reducing the element of stigma and taboo attached with doing research on sexual minorities, discoraging ignoring without exploring, addressing social denial of certain sexual issues in Pakistan, and challenging that being hijra is homogenous construct.

This move of the Pakistani State to recognize third gender of hijras has more of the cultural impact, social change (Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Mabey, 2007; Yip, 2007), acculturation (Crooks & Baur, 2005), and modernization than religious, rather we can safely posit that it is in contradiction of Islamic teachings. Attitude change programme can be taken up to generate acceptance of gender diversity in masses. Programme evaluation to monitor the effective attitude change can be ascertained through AHS.


From the present study, we conclude that AHS is a valid and reliable tool to measure attitudes towards hijras of hijra community. Based on empirical approach, we can conclude that people’s attitudes revolve around hijras’ rights and status, acceptance in any relationship, and their sexual issues. It became evident that still people believed in majority that hijras of hijra community are those individuals who are born with sexual deformity than male-to-female transgenders as they lack interaction with hijras on daily basis.


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APA-7 Style
Jami, H., Kamal, A. (2015). Measuring Attitudes toward Hijras in Pakistan: Gender and Religiosity in Perspective. Pak. J. Psychol. Res, 30(1), 151-187.

ACS Style
Jami, H.; Kamal, A. Measuring Attitudes toward Hijras in Pakistan: Gender and Religiosity in Perspective. Pak. J. Psychol. Res 2015, 30, 151-187.

AMA Style
Jami H, Kamal A. Measuring Attitudes toward Hijras in Pakistan: Gender and Religiosity in Perspective. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research. 2015; 30(1): 151-187.

Chicago/Turabian Style
Jami, Humaira, and Anila Kamal. 2015. "Measuring Attitudes toward Hijras in Pakistan: Gender and Religiosity in Perspective" Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research 30, no. 1: 151-187.