In western culture, gender and sex have been described under two distinct realms–male and female. These identities (for some) are determined solely biologically, and many are oblivious to the fact that in many cultures, different genders are present. One of the most prominent third genders is based in South Asia, specifically India.
Known as the hijra, the community has grown to become a prominent and well-known member of Indian society, but has suffered from discrimination and has struggled for their basic fundamental rights. The situation for transgenders is terrible in any nation undoubtedly. But in a country like India, a society where the people’s mentality is at its lowest, their situation worsens.
Transgenders are basically people whose gender does not correspond with their birth sex. In India, the condition for transgenders is terrible. They are treated brutally in their homes and the society does not accept them. They face difficulties right after they begin realising that they are different. A recent case study of a few transgenders was conducted in Pirhagari, Mongolpuri, and New Delhi. The stories of the transgenders that were present were heartbreaking. Even amongst those, a few are actually taking it up as a challenge and are trying to uplift the situation for others of their own kind.
It was found out that the average realisation age was around 8-10 (3rd – 5th grade). Right from their schooling age, they start facing difficulties. In schools, they are bullied by the rest of the kids; as a result they are unable to pursue their schooling interests and dropout in between. Their college life remains unexplored because of unfinished schooling and they are unable to get respectable jobs anywhere in the society.
Amongst all these stories, one of them stood out. A trans who realised that she was different from the rest of her family at around 8 years of age broke out and told her entire story. Starting from 8 years of age, her parents never welcomed her home, nor took care of any her needs. She was just used as a mere tool and considered as an embarrassment to the entire family. Her parents had her head shaven and burnt all her clothes. She was made to sever her ties with all her acquaintances (friends, family). She says that she was not allowed to go out before 10 in the morning and after 10 in the night. After a certain point of time, her family kicked her out of the house and as a result she found other people of her own kind. She tells us that she has no other means of living except for Sex, because in today’s world it is impossible for her to find people who hire her for a respectable job. Finding salvation through staying around her own kind of people, she says that it is very hard for any transgender, even if they get educated to do any fruitful work as the society does not accept them. They have totally given up hope on the fact that any relief will actually be provided to them. They explicitly say, and I quote “We know no fruit is going to bear from this survey/interview, but we still share our stories because it is very hard for us to find people who are actually willing to listen, and we don’t deny telling them when they volunteer to do so. This might be just another case study for you, but it is a birth of a glimmer of hope for us, no matter how dim it is.” This alone tells us how much suffering each and every single trans gendered individual goes through in their lifetime.
The above mentioned story had shook me up, but then the judgement given by the Supreme Court in the case of NALSA v. Unioin of India was that equal rights and protection should be given to the trans people. There has been some progress in the lives of the transgenders.
Another story was a positive one of how trans lives have turned as India got its first transgender judge Joyita Mondal in 2017. Also, this year in the trans-friendly state of Kerala, there was a beauty pageant organised for transgenders, where 40 aspirants turned up out of which 9 were selected for the finals. This competition boosted their confidence and gave them a hope to be active in the mainstream.
Each being in this universe is indeed unique and an integral part of nature. It would thus be wrong to judge and discriminate against people who may not fit the conventional, man-made stereotype. It is time that India realizes that every individual in this country has equal rights and privileges and follow the policy of “Live and Let Live”.
-Contributed by Atreyee
Picture Credits: ibtimes.co.uk