Hijras are eunuchs or transgender people, who have significant social roles in their respective communities. These individuals generally make a living as street performers such as dancing, singing and even performing blessing from donation. This is even traditional to have these hijras perform at baby blessings and weddings. Hijras are mainly present in Indian sub continent with a total population of 495000. Apart from India, hijras are also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In India, they have different names, such as Jagappa, Aruvanu and Aravani. However, the community of hijra prefers to call themselves as Kinner or Kinnar in India, which refers to the mythological human beings that have quality in singing and dancing. Most of the hijras generally live in an organized and well live all hijra communities that are being led by a specific guru.
The hijra communities are intentional families, which have existed for several generations by maintaining their own subsequent traditions as well as providing a refuge for all individuals, who are fleeing abuse or even living in severe poverty for getting rejected by the families of origin. Several hijras work as sex workers for their daily survival. Hijras do not have one fixed gender. The gender identity of a hijra is neither female nor male. It is typically an individual, who was eventually born male, however dresses as a woman. A hijra is a transgender or is transitioning to any other gender. The curious position of hijra in the Indian society could be explained by the head on collision of two completely different traditions. Hijras have been often referred in the earlier Hindu texts and the four Vedas that were written in the 2nd millennium BC.
The castration was being seen as an extremely degrading punishment that is meted out to the lowest of the society. This activity of castration have brought the criminals to certain level or even lower than the untouchable caste. It is often considered that being a hijra is a curse and no one is allowed to accept alms from these people and were being excluded from each and every activity or work in the society. However, few revolutionaries have forbidden castration completely and they were always common in the Muslim society as well as their sterility were being considered free of the sexuality taint. Hijras were hence considered as suitable to guard sacred relics and became extremely powerful in the Muslim society. They are thrown out of the house and are rejected by the families. As a result all the hijras in one city live together as a community for gaining protection and security. In the local streets, these individuals affect the normal manners of a pantomime dame for gaining attention. Hijras try all possible methods to earn their living and they even visit mosques and temples as well as go on pilgrimage to the Hindu and Muslim shrines within Indian sub continent.
The word hijra is an Indian word and it has traditionally been translated into English as hermaphrodite or eunuch, in which there is irregularity of the male genitalia as per centralized position. However, in general these hijras are born male, with only few variations, who have been born with intersex variations. Few of the hijras have undergone an initiation rite within their respective community, known as nirwaan that solely involves complete removal of the testicles, scrotum and penis. During the 20th century, few hijra activists as well as NGOs or non-government organizations have lobbied for the official recognition of the hijras as third gender or third sex as neither woman nor man. In the year of 2014, the Supreme Court of India has recognized these intersex people, transgender people, hijras and eunuchs as the third gender in law. Apart from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh have even legally accepted the entire existence of a third gender. Nepal and India have provided hijras with the scope of having passports as well as few other official documents. The government of Bangladesh have provided the hijras with the eligibility of pursuing education.
The term “hijra” is being derived from the Arabic term “hijr”, which means any person, who has left his or her own tribe. In the sub-continent of India, this particular term is being utilized for the community of gender or sex non-conforming people, who are not a part of their main stream society. All of these people can be gender non binary, transgender or even intersex, who have left their homes and are living amongst the community of any other gender non-conforming people. The hijras even leave their homes for few reasons such as frequent abuse or even because they were orchestrated from the society or family. The term “hijra” is even sometimes utilized in India for insulting or even abusing a male after deeming as not masculine enough.
The hijras often face a lot of hurdles or struggles while earning for their living. In Indian sub-continent, most of the people have to beg near traffic signals or inside local trains. They often get rude behaviour or approach from the normal people. The entire society of the country is responsible for their sufferings and poverty. They are being disowned by their own families and even get harsh treatments from other people in the society. Moreover, in India, they do not get proper education and this type of lack of education as well as non-availability of jobs often forces them in taking to the professions of prostitution and begging. However, amidst of every adversity, there are few transgender people, who are brave enough in making their way to the mainstream, achieve their subsequent goals and then prove that the trans people have capability in deserving every right, hence breaking the stereotyping environment. It is being observed that due to the treatment hijras get from mainstream people, they are often depressed and have to deal with dysphoria.
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