The term third gender has
been used to describe hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Hijras are biological male who rejects
their ‘masculine’ identity to identify either as woman, or”not-man”, or
“in-between man and woman”, or “neither man nor woman”. .
Hijras social life is totally different from mainstream social life. The most
significant relationship in the Hijra community is that of the guruma (master,
teacher) and chela (disciple).
According to the Census of
2011 4.9 lakh people of India have identified then as people belonging to third
gender, with Utter Pradesh having highest no of people belonging to Third
gender(1,37,000) . The census
data revealed the low literacy level in
the community, just 46%, compared to 74% literacy in the general population
Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian
subcontinent. There is recognition of “third sex” or persons not
confirm to male or female gender in the writings of ancient India. The concept
of “tritiyaprakriti” or “napumsaka” had been an integral part of the Hindu
mythology, folklore, epic and early Vedic and Puranic literatures. During
the period of Mughals they rose to well known positions as political advisors,
administrators,generals as well as guardians of the harems
transgender persons/Hijras had played a prominent role, but with the dawn of
colonial rule in India from 18th century onwards, the situation had changed,
because during the colonial rule The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 was enacted to
supervise the deeds of TGC/hijras , which deemed the entire community of transgender
persons as innately „criminal” and
„addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences”
In the contemporary time the Government of India
introduced so many welfare policy and schemes such as, census(2011),
documentation, issuing of the citizenship ID Cards, issuing passports (2005),giving
voting rights(1994) social-economical development and constitutional safeguards
for the transgender people. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a major initiative of the 11th Five Year
Plan period which brought employment opportunities for transgender people.
Recent Judgment on National Legal
Services Authority v. Union of India (NLSA) case is considered as a step
forward that recognizes the constitutional and other legal rights of transgender
community and their gender identification as well as sexual orientation. The
case is a milestone in the expounding of recognition of transgender as a person
before the law and equal protection of the laws.
Finally it can be said that the situation is
changing slowly. Now they are organizing and try to set up their position in
the society. Currently there are many organisations in many cities in India , such as
Humsafar(Mumbai), Alternative Law forum(Banglore), Sangama(Karnataka) working
for LGBT rights. As a human being they are also fighting for their recognition
in the society.