Transgender– a word related to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. In the Southern part of Asia, the countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, they have got multiple names. The most common name is Hijra (which includes a person who is identified as transsexual, eunuch, or cross-dresser).
According to the Indian Census Report of 2014, the official count of this third-gender was 4.9 lakh. While the transgender activists estimated that the actual count would much higher than this official count.
The social and economic life of Hijras is very difficult and vulnerable. India’s shunned transgenders are struggling to survive. Most of the transgenders have to get themselves involved in sex work in order to earn a livelihood. Though the name of ‘Third-sex’ is already mentioned in many of our texts, our society is not ready to accept them in the mainstream. Hijras lives on fringes of our Indian society and had face numbers of discrimination and humiliation.
We can see many hijras in sex work and be moving around in cities asking for money from families who are celebrating a marriage or the childbirth.
Reena, a transgender, is now HIV positive. She needs to satisfy many of her clients giving sexual pleasure. But still, she has a hope that the things will change with the passage of days and night and there will be a time when they will be accepted in our society.
They are also a human being. The humiliation which they are facing is not because of their fault, God had made them like this, they can’t help it.
India, however, does recognize legally transgender as a ‘third-gender’. separating them from male and female. Even Kochi Metro is the first government in the country who has given employment to 23 transgenders, who will be on duty from 17th June 2017.
On 24th April 2015, the Indian Parliament has passed the Rights of the Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 guaranteeing rights and entitlements, reservations in education and jobs where 2% is specifically for a government job, legal aid, pension, unemployment allowance and skill development for transgender people. In April 2017, Indian Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation has also instructed states to allow transgenders to use public toilets of their choice.
There are many transgender activists who are working for the rights of transgenders, but still, the journey is too far to complete. Most hijras live at the margins of society with very low status; the very word “hijra” is sometimes used in a derogatory manner. Violence against hijras, especially hijra sex workers, is often brutal and occurs in public spaces, police stations, prisons, and their homes. As with transgender people in most of the world, they face extreme discrimination in health, housing, education, employment, immigration, law, and any bureaucracy that is unable to place them into male or female gender categories.
We also accept that there some transgenders (they can be termed as Hijra Mafia) in our society who take this term as their business and also force others to get involved into this. Here, the teens are abducted from the public places and are forced to undergo sex change surgery and face a traumatic life of a eunuch. Castration is forced on them and ironically very few people get the courage to retaliate.