Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Hijras: A taboo in India

I saw her walk across the street swaying her hips. She was draped in a colorful glittering  sari that seemed to shine through the bright sun. As she came towards my car and tapped my window I pulled down my window and for a brief moment, my eyes met hers. And at that very moment, in the midst of the loud crowd and the constant sounds of the vehicle, her eyes spoke her unspoken words... leaving me speechless!

I found her pleasant to look at, despite the thick coating of face powder and the dark red lipstick she had put on. A strong aroma of perfume caught my nose. Finally, I dug my purse to get a 10 rupee note. As I gave it to her she blessed me with abundance bunch of happiness. That moment was a painfully happy moment for both of us. This particular incident made me ponder what do I think, and how do I feel these visible but yet invisible group of humans! HIJRAS

 Why don’t you find yourself a job? You seem young and talented I told her.

Instantly she refuted back, Would you employ me? No one wants to give a job to our kind.

The word Transgender is an umbrella term that collectively describes anyone whose gender identity does not fully match their assigned birth sex. This broad category includes transsexuals and cross-dressers too. But for centuries in India, all these terms have been brought under one broad category- called Hijra. The community is moreover treated as criminals, the outcast of the society and the subject to discrimination and sexual abuse. You would often find them wandering on the roads, clapping hands in the train and dancing graciously in the marriages well, not often do people want to see them or have anything to do with them. This is what we all know of them, right? The worst scenario is when the uphill struggle for the hijras first begins with finding acceptance within the family. Why aren’t these people given the deserved respect? Why are they made fun of and why is it so difficult for us to accept them?

Whenever a Hijra is born somewhere, the hijras community cry the painful tears. The reason being, another person born who would never be given the deserved respect. Hence that child is taken by them. And whenever a hijra dies, it’s a moment of rejoicing for the community since the soul is finally in peace after been gone through the turmoil of the world.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something...transgendered? If you are an Indian in need of some luck on your wedding day you could do no better than seek the blessing of one of the country’s estimated 200,000 male to female transsexuals or "hijras". Despite this fact being stated, why are these people given a name and place to be normal in the society?

And almost a long hundred years later, on April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court of India handed down a landmark ruling, identifying them as the third gender of the country. This huge and needed decision granted India’s transgender society the right to self-identity.

Though a big step it was, there is still a long and struggling war against the proclaimed society in restoring the dignity of the “Third Gender”. They are still stigmatized by mainstream selfish and narrow-minded creatures and are often denied the basic fundamental rights of education and employment. People are also scared to their wits to keep a transgender as a tenant. When will we learn or understand the basic fact that they are humans too and not Satans!

Until and unless we all begin to positively accept them as a part of our world, no law or government would ever be able to give them the dignity they need the most. Until then, they would just be spotted on the roads, with bright red lipstick, shimmering sari and clapping their hands. Just to get our attention towards them!

Transgender community is fighting a long never ending battle. The Supreme Court has recognized them as the third gender. They have successfully achieved today the positions of professor and police in mainstream society. They will undoubtedly win this “outer” fight of material gains with the persistent moment.

But that’s just not enough! That’s not what they demand. What they demand is the equality they are longingly waiting for When I, you and all others will start building a loving and affirmative connections with them, put ourselves in their shoes and respect them as human beings, then the victory in “inner” fight of humanness will be achieved. That victory would provide them inner peace and would sooth the lost souls.

Written by Navya Vijay
A crazy dreamer bibliophile, budding writer!

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