Thursday, November 21, 2013

Emancipating "Hijras"

The term “hijra” is very widely used term in Hindi (and a few other languages). But when it comes to finding an equivalent term in English, it is a tad bit more complex. Terms like transgender, transexual and asexual all refer to a set of people with a non-specific sexual identity but are not exactly equivalents of “hijra”. A simpler way of defining them would be to say that they are a set of people who do not fit into either of the two genders that are officially accepted in most countries, male and female. 

People with Klinefelter’s Syndrome (XXY sex chromosome) or Turner’s Syndrome (X0 sex chromosomes) fall into the category who due to chromosomal mutations in the fetal stage  are born with a genetic defect which affects their reproductive systems, rendering them sexless and hence, infertile.

What is important to know is the widespread ignorance about this category of people and the derogatory use of the term to signify the class of people belonging to the category. Often have I come across a group of “hijras” being invited to dance on the birth of a newborn in a house and provide them with blessings for which they get paid a meager amount. Also, a group of them roaming about inside train compartments and buses asking people for alms is another very common sight. 

This was written for Half Baked Beans blog. Read the rest here-

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