Nepal’s traditional history records non-binary gender roles, with vocabulary coming from different cultures of different regions throughout the country such as “Meti” in Khas Nepali language (Old Nepali language from hilly region), “Maibabu” in Nepal Bhasa (Newari language from Kathmandu valley), “Fulumulu” in the Eastern Himalayan region, “Folokmolok” in Western Himalayan region, “Hijda” in Terai (southern plain lands) and “Khwaja Sera” in Muslim communities, all of which shows awareness and possible acceptance of non-binary gender roles in the history of Nepal. But there is considerably less awareness and acceptance compared to the past towards non-binary gender roles currently in Nepal, says Rukshana Kapali of Queer Youth Group (QYG) – Voice for Transgender Youth.
QYG – Voice for Transgender Youth, is a loose affiliation of young activists who identify in identities of Queer, MOGAI or any cultural terms that are non-cis-hetero. The organization was established by Ruksana Kapali, a transgender activist. She had a vision of spreading awareness and securing rights for the existing Queer community of Nepal.
Rukshana further adds a question to Nepali people about how society here might be completely unknown to the concepts of gender fluidity and gender spectrums. The term gender-fluidity being an identity that is not fixed (being strictly male or female) and is capable of changing over time. The gender spectrum is a diagram of various gender identities which is more inclusive than the gender scale. As opposed to having only two endpoints, male and female, and then some gray area in the middle, the gender spectrum includes people who are genderfluid, androgynous, more masculine, more feminine, trans, etc. The gender spectrum allows for those with non-binary identities to be recognized. It is also a major highlight in QYG’s awareness campaigns.
QYG is dedicated to making these terms easily understandable to all people, make it a common, well-known vocabulary. Along with it, QYG also aims to include people who have been excluded from mainstream social gender roles. They essentially prioritize uplifting marginalized vulnerable LGBTIQ people by making their gender roles more inclusive.
QYG conducts a discussion program called Tsi-Nu-Tok. Tsi Nu Tok is a discussion series that encourages discussions and debates on general social issues among LGBTI youths in Kathmandu. The primary goal of Tsi Nu Tok is to welcome a discussion culture amongst LGBTI youths. So, the LGBTI movement has new discourses and conclusions. During their discussions, various problems of LGBTIQ such as enrollment in universities as a gender-fluid person, name changes in legal documents and mainstream inclusion, etc are debated.
In the context of Nepal, The Nepalese government legalized same-sex marriage across the country in 2007 along with the introduction of several new laws. These new laws explicitly include legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation, the right to have their preferred gender displayed on their identity cards, a prohibition on discrimination on any ground including sex or sexual orientation by the State/civil society and the right of access to state processes and public services for non-binary genders and gender-based minorities. Though it has been twelve years, LGBTIQ people still face societal discrimination in Nepal. There is a long way to go for QYG and Nepal as a country to make ourselves more gender-inclusive.