The Hijra community in India-“I didn’t realize who I was, until I stopped being who I wasn’t”
“I have the strength of the boys and I have the love of the girls, now I am complete, before I wasn’t”- Madhuja aka Bishwanath
“Hijras” – the stigmatized third gender, the victim of our narrow-stereotyped- binary social structure – are forced to take exile and live in a ritualistic social organization with others who are like “them” and earn living by prostitution or by offering blessings in exchange for payments.
The history of the Hijras dates back to more than 4,000 years ago in India. hijras were recognized throughout history in the Hindu ancient epics from Mahabharata to the Kama-sutra and Muslim hijras used to serve honourable positions in courts. It was during the British raj in India, the fate of the transgender community changed, Section: 377 was introduced, laws were passed outlawing transgenderism, impacting the hijras traditional way of life.
According to the most recent survey, the number of transgender people today in India are more than 4.9 lakhs (source: TOI). Their lack of gender identity made it impossible to acquire basic human rights such as education, housing, healthcare, employment or justice that leads to financial and psychological problems.
It was only 2009 when the Supreme Court allowed a legal documentation of the official third gender in India, neither male nor female. Giving the transgender community, to choose a gender “other” than male or female in the legal documents, a right they deserved. Only the fundamental conflict still remains, that is the coexistence of section 377 and the ruling of the identity of the third gender, wherein one enjoys the freedom of gender identity while sexuality remains a punishable offence.