Ritual: The vast majority of hijras are males who undergo the 40-daytransformation – though female to male transformations also Themyth continues with the name of Iravan/Aravan,a patron God of the well-known transgender communities called Ali. And many numberof 14th century texts in Sanskrit and Bengali namely Krittivasa Ramayana has high-lightened the practice of custom inIndia. Though Hijras were recognized and given importance in our ancient customand practices, the conditions have been deteriorating generation by generation.They were alsoconsidered to hold religious authority and were sought out for blessings,particularly during religious ceremonies. However, when the Indian subcontinentcame under colonial rule during the 19th century, British authoritiessought to eradicate and criminalize the Hijra community throughvarious laws. These laws were later repealed after India attained independence.Hidden world of the hijras: Inside India’s4,000-year-old transgender community where religious respect doesn’t protectthem from modern-day discrimination· Hijra is the term usedto describe cross dressers, intersex people and transgender women across southAsia· Their communities date back morethan 4,000 and they appear in ancient texts as bearers of luck and fertility· But while for centuries theywere respected as spiritual figures in society, they now face discrimination inIndia Thewrite up very nicely illustrates about them dressing up in bright glamoroussarees, make up well done and gathered in a group out of a temple to offerblessing to visitors.
As both of them stated – “They are hijras, the term used todescribe cross dressers, intersex people and transgender women who make upthe country’s ‘third gender’. While some of the men are castrated intheir journey to become hijras, for many the transformation is a primarilyspiritual one. A number undertake a 40-day self-emasculation ritual in the nameof the Hindu goddess of Bachuchara Mata.”Their communities across South-east Asia go back tothe ancient times where they are also referred to as bearers of luck andfertility who were sought after to perform blessings and ceremonies, but this age old long standing religious respectshave not protected them from the modern-day problems, discrimination andmarginalisation of their communities in the common man’s society.
Widespreadprejudice means that it can often be difficult for hijras to find permanenthomes – and they are often driven to live in communes on the fringes ofsociety. Within these communes, there is a firm social structure – whichrevolves around the hierarchy of the Guru/mother, over her chela/daughter. Ifthe relationship between these generations is nurtured with love over theyears, then these groups can be a secure and safe place for young Hijras whohave been ostracised or deserted by their loved ones or families. Some of themstate that the Hijra Community is like a family and the big house is a place ofcomfort. The modern world, Hijra comprise of both communitiesin which spiritual meanings are preserved, and individuals who assume theidentity of hijra scratch out a living through begging, menial jobs and in somecases sex work.
There are certain points highlighted distinctly fromthe life of the Hijras/Transgenders/the third genders:Ceremonies:Dressed in brightly-coloured saris, the hijras sit and wait to receive giftsand payments in exchange for carrying out blessings.Community: Agroup of hijras sit outside the Temple of Bahuchara Mata in Becharaji, inwestern India, regarded as their cultural centre.MeetingPlace: Hijras spend most of their time sitting outside the temple – so thatthose looking for their services can always find them.Disapproval: Those who do not give generously to thewaiting hijras can expect to be given a frosty reception and glaring looksoccur.Worship: The temple honours Bachuchara Mata, a Hindugoddess whose followers are known to self-emasculate in a ritual lasting 40days.Community:(from left to right, starting in back row) Meghna, Kajal, Sathi, Bansi, Mayaand Madhuja, live together in the communeProtective:Sathi, a guru, sits with her arms wrapped around Maya, her chela, or daughter,whom she will teach the customs of the hijraLiving: Pots, pansand cleaning products are stacked on the shelf that runs along the wall of oneof the rooms of the communeSocialStructure: Within these communes, there is a firm social structure – organisedaround the hierarchy of the guru, or mother, over her chela, or daughter.Sleepingquarters: Washing hangs over a simple wooden frame which serves as one of theday beds in the commune.Day to daychores: Each one is assigned tasks to carry out the day to day work in thecommune to make it an easy for the smooth living of each and every member there.
So,all summed in a nutshell: Simple walls, floors and furniture make up thecommune, where the Hijras depend on each other to survive.Evolution of theFundamental Rights for the Third Gender:Fundamental rights are broadlyconsidered as human rights. Asan individual, a transgender should be assuredthe legal rights which provide them a secure and healthy life.It defines marriage as “the legal union as prescribed under this Act of aman with a woman, a man with another man, a woman with another woman atransgender with another transgender or a transgender with a man or a woman.
All married couple and couples in partnership entitled to adopt a child. Sexualorientation of the married couple or the partners should not to be a bar totheir right to adoption. Non-heterosexual couples will be equally entitled toadopt a child.On 24 April 2015, the Rajya Sabha unanimouslypassed the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 guaranteeing rights and entitlements, reservations ineducation and jobs (2% reservation in government jobs), legal aid, pensions,unemployment allowances and skill development for transgender people. It alsocontains provisions to prohibit discrimination in employment as well as preventabuse, violence and exploitation of transgender people. The bill also providesfor the establishment of welfare boards at the centre and state level as wellas for transgender rights courts. The bill was introduced by DMK MP TrichySiva, and marked the first time the Upper House had passed a private member’sbill in 45 years.
However, the bill contains several anomalies and a lack ofclarity on how various ministries will co-ordinate to implement its provisions.The bill is still pending in the Lower House.The Indian Government should amend the Transgender RightsBill to ensure that trans genders can self-identify their legal gender withoutunwanted intervention from committees or experts, be they medical,psychological, or anyone else; and this alone should form the basis for theiraccess to all rights, social security measures, benefits, and entitlements.Only then can the law support the communities it seeks to protect and empower.The Parliamentary Committee, headed by Bais, has made a great start in backingtrans rights in India. Now it’s up to the government to not only enact a goodlaw, but repeal the Colonial Legacy of section 377 as well. NationalLegal Services Authority vs.
Union of India (UOI) : Theterm Hijra is widely usedin South Asia, social workers and community activists encourage the public touse the socially conscious and more encompassing term Hwaaja Sira; this includes persons who identify as transgender,transsexual, a cross-dresser, or eunuch. There are a number of terms usedthroughout India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and their various dialects thatreference these communities, but for consistency purposes, these communitieswill be referred to here as Hijras within the context of thisarticle.Even though theHijra community is still respected and honored by society at large andcelebrated in religious or spiritual ceremonies, they are often looked down onor degraded and often victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hatecrimes against the community are common, as is housing and other discrimination.There are several recorded outbursts of protest by the third genders/hijras/gays/lesbian for their basic and human rights in the social communityand to a certain extent they have been given their rights. The government hastried to address this by introducing bills for the protection oftransgender persons, with prison terms and other punishments for thoseoffending them.A 2014 ruling in the Supreme Court of India,declared that a third gender would be recognized on all official documentationfor the transsexual, transgender, eunuch, and cross-dresser communities. Thislegal status aimed to allow equal access to education, healthcare, andemployment.
In the year 2015, summer has seen a whirlwindof human rights news: The U.S Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sexmarriage, racially charged protests and discussions on transgender rights.Society is becoming more aware of people’s differences in opinion, be it theirlifestyle choice or political standing.
However, some of these differences,which are considered to be radically different than the norm, have actuallybeen around for thousands of years. Such is the case of the Hijras, the South Asian transsexual and transgender community in India,who have been open about their self-identification for centuries. While Indian lawrecognizes transgender people, including Hijras, as a third gender, otherSouth Asian countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan,have recognized only Hijras as the third gender. This is even whenthe larger LGBT community faces severe legal disadvantages and whensame-sex sexual relations are illegal in the country. The Supreme Court ofIndia ruled in favor of a ‘third gender,’ recognizing members of the hijracommunity. But while the ruling granted hijra some political and economicrights – discrimination and ignorance still threaten their livelihoods.Achievements of Transgenders:Despite facing all kinds of discrimination and social stigma,these are the few examples of trans genders who have achieved greater heightsand proved the importance of higher education in their lives Kalki Subramaniam:Kalki Subramanianis the firsttransgender woman to star in a major film, “Narthagi,” in 2011.
Also a poet anda painter, she has established a strong transgender rights community with aglobal reach. She holds two masters degrees,one in Journalism and Mass Communication, and another in IntellectualRelations.. Kalki is a journalist, a writer, and a social activist who is alsothe founder of the Sahodari Foundationwhich was established in 2008 for transgender community.
In year 2015, she received the Facebook award for the 12Most Inspirational Women in the World who are using Facebook for CommunityDevelopment.Padmini PrakashPadmini Prakash is an Indian News Anchor. She is thefirst transgender news anchor of India. She appears every evening at 19:00 topresent a news show on the Lotus TV .she is a trained Kathak dancer and hasacted in Tamil soap operas before joining the news channel. She has also been awardedas Miss Transgender India in 2009.Madhu Bai KinnarMadhu Bai Kinnar expelledfrom her home became the first transgender woman who won the municipal electionin Raigarh in the central state of Chhattisgarh, beating her rival from PrimeMinister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) by more than 4,500 votes,according to the state election commission. She isa street-play artist and also a folk dance performer who earlier earned herliving by singing and dancing on a train.
Manabi Bandyopadhyay: On 9thjune 2015Manabi Bandyopadhyay became thefirst transgender to hold the position of a Principal atKrishnagar Women’s College. Bandopadhyay completed herMA in Bengali and then she became the first transgender from West Bengal to completea PhD. On the other hand, she also became the first transgendered professorwhen she joined Vivekananda Centenary College in Jhargram (WestBengal) asa lecturer in the late 1990s. LaxmiNarayan Tripathi Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is a transgender rightactivist, bollywood actor and Bharatnatyam dancer in Mumbai. shepursued arts degree from Mumbai’s Mithibai Collegeand a postgraduate degree in Bharatnatyam .
She is the first transgender personto represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008. Members of thesecommunities are also standing up for noble causes outside of their own-forinstance, in the below PSA for seatbelt safety in India.Reforms and Initiativesimplemented for the upliftment of the third genders:Initiativeshave been taken across different states in India for the betterment oftransgender community so that they are not isolated from societal activitiesand to ensure that they lead an independent life.The New Delhi government for thebenefit of transgender community has initiated the launch of umbrella scheme inorder to provide better education facilities to transgender children and alsofinancial aid to work .In addition, this scheme would also provide monetarybenefit to families with transgender children and encourage them not to abandonthem.
The ministry of social justice and empowerment is giving finishingtouches to an umbrella scheme which would be launched in the next financial year.This scheme would consist of five components that is pre-matric and post-matric scholarship fortransgender children that would help them pursue their higher studies , supportfor vocational training of trans genders, pension for out-of-work trans gendersin the age group of 40 to 60 years and monthly monetary support for familieswith transgender children. The West Bengal Governmenthas taken initiatives to upgrade status of the highly marginalized andsusceptible trans genders who are lagging in the areas of educationand employment. The state has planned to include rehabilitation and welfare ofthe transgender community, and sensitization and awareness programs involvingall stakeholders, including the police, to tackle the community’s medicalproblems, educational facilities and security challenges.
Recently, the MamataBanerjee government has taken a step further to improve the social and economicconditions of its transgender community. It has asked the Kolkata Police toempower the community by recruiting trans genders into the Civic PoliceVolunteer Force (CPVC).A new initiativeby the Kerala Government puts the state miles ahead of others in India in thefield of transgender rights, the government has employed trans genders in theKerala Metro, Health Minister –K.K.Shailaja has declared that all State-run MedicalColleges and Hospitals will soon have clinics meant for transgender people. Conclusion:Each human beingin this Universe is unique, and an essential part of Nature. It is unfair to judge and discriminate peopleon the basis of gender.
Every transgender deserves equal opportunities andfacilities for a better life. Higher education plays a vital role inevery aspects of our lives, therefore every transgender in our country shouldbe given opportunities to pursue higher education so that they are capable of leading theirlives independently and they can also contribute to the society.