Week 2 Activity Post

What about people who are “in-between”? How are trans-gendered people treated?

In India, people who are in between are called hijras. “The hijra, an institutionalized third gender role in India, is “neither male nor female”, containing elements of both” (Nanda, 1986).  In news sources, hijras are recognized and discussed in terms of being trans-gendered or transgender. In India, hijra are considered to be inter-sexed or “impotent men” that have their genitals removed. The often times wear female dress and adopt female behaviors. The hijras themselves speak of themselves as being  “‘separate’, ‘being neither man nor woman’, ‘born as men, but not men’, or being ‘not perfect men'” (Nanda, 1986, ). They often times lack the desire to have sexual engagement with women as men because of their intersextionality and castration. This means that hijras are “unable to reproduce children, especially sons, an essential element in the Hindu concept of the normal, masculine role of males”. (Nanda, 1986) The government has just recently begun to discuss the hijra in terms of familial and alternative family structures due to their inability to reproduce. ” … the Union government has made it clear that it would not contest the demand to decriminalize gay sex provided the Supreme Court does not go into issues of marriage, adoption, and other civil rights concerning the LGBTQ  community, exactly a year ago, a parliamentary panel had taken an entirely contrarian and rather assertive stand on the issue in support of all kinds of civil rights for people across the sexual spectrum” (The Indian Express, 2018). The Indian government has after many years of strongly conservative ruling only just legalized gay sex, which previously was illegal. While they have allowed fr gay sex, the still are refusing to give hijra their basic civil rights for adoption and marriage. While this has caused outrage, this is not too different from legalizing gay marriage in the United States, which was only just recently made legal.

In India, there is an ongoing conflict and struggle for women and hijras. They often times face sexual violence such as assault and rape. Hijras often times work as sex workers and so face more criminal injustices than must. ““When a transgender woman gets raped in this country, cops first mock her, saying she doesn’t have the organs to be sexually assaulted; and what follows is a barrage of injustices – perhaps greater than the first one””(This Week in Asia, 2018). The police systems in India are just as much at fault in India. Due to India being more largely a patriarchy, women receive less respect, but transgender people and hijras receive even less.  “Despite this, sexual abuse against transgender men and women remains largely ignored. The Transgender Persons [Protection of Rights] Bill, 2016, for example, treats sexual violence as a petty offence – maximum punishment being two years” (This Week in Asia, 2018)”. The government posts annual statistics for crimes against men, and women, but transgender people do not receive the same courtesy. These crimes are enforced by the communities lack of jobs available for hijras due to discrimination. “Hijras attribute their increases prostitution to declining opportunities to earn a living in their traditional manner…”(Nanda, 1986). Hijras while identifying in the many ways that they do, often face discrimination, a lack of civil rights, and a lack of job opportunities regardless of their sacred roles within their communities.


1. Serena Nanda PhD (1986) The Hijras of India:, Journal of Homosexuality, 11:3-4, 35-54, DOI: 10.1300/J082v11n03_03

2. https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2154077/india-no-country-transgender-women



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