Shivali Malhotra for BeyondHeadlines
I being a disabled took an initiative to get them also a life in which they are treated equal and they get all the rights as we as a citizen of India have. We on 14th Feb 2014 went to the Hijra Community to make a special day for them with 10 school kids who made a “Thank you cards for being with us in this world”. Everyone called them Dadi, Ma, Di and created several relationships with them. They all felt happy that small kids understand the feeling of their rights but the citizens didn’t understand how to behave with them.
They all loved the visit which we made with kids and celebrated the Valentine’s Day with them for the first time they felt so happy on valentine. Asian countries have centuries-old histories of existence of gender-variant males – who in present times would have been labelled as ‘transgender women’. India is no exception. Kama Sutra provides vivid description of sexual life of people with ‘third nature‘.
The umbrella term ‘transgender‘ may hide the complexity and diversity of the various subgroups of gender-variant people in India. For example, some Hijra activists may prefer others calling them ‘Hijras’ and not to assume Hijras under the broader category ‘transgender’. One reason for this is that they feel Hijras have a long history, culture and tradition in India, which would not be evident or which might be overlooked when using the catch-all term ‘transgender’. Though some Hijra activists may also identify as ‘transgender’ for outsiders or in the global platform, they prefer the label ‘transgender women’ to be applied to those transgender women who are not part of the Hijra communities. However, some other Hijra activists like LAXMI NARYAN Tripathi, may identify as both ‘Hijras’ and ‘transgender woman‘.
Social Exclusion is the Framework which is seen as having particular salience in addressing the barriers to meeting the Development Objectives of society, particularly where these relate to exclusionary social relations and institutions
Adapting the Social Exclusion Framework to Hijras women, one can understand how transgender communities have been excluded from effectively participating in social and cultural life; economy; and politics and decision-making processes. This section uses this framework to illustrate the multiple forms of oppression faced by Hijras communities.
Exclusion from Friends and Families
- In general, Indians tolerate, accept, and respect a wide range of differences in cultures, religions, languages, and customs. Despite Indian society’s general climate of acceptance and tolerance, there appears to be limited public knowledge and understanding of same sex sexual orientation and people whose gender identity and expression are incongruent with their biological sex.
- In India, when instead of Male or female a third sex child is born in their family they are not allowed to nourish the child and take care of it because for them it is nuisance.
- Most families do not accept if their male child starts behaving in ways that are considered feminine or inappropriate to the expected gender role.
- Some like Laxmi Naryan Tripathi’s parents do not have that courageous heart to separate their child and they nourish them, get them education, work and respect but this is just a 2-5% chance in India.
- Thus, later transgender women may find it difficult even to claim their share of the property or inherit what would be lawfully theirs. Sometimes, the child or teenager may decide to run away from the family not able to tolerate the discrimination or not wanting to bring shame to one’s family. Some of them may eventually find their way to Hijra communities.
Education for Hijars/Transgender:
- This means many Hijras are not educated or uneducated and consequently find it difficult to get jobs. Moreover, it ishard to find people who employ Hijras/Transgender people.
- Hijras/Transgender communities face a variety of social security issues. Since most Hijras run away or evicted from home, they do not expect support from their biological family in the long run.
- Subsequently, they face a lot of challenges especially when they are not in a position to earn due to health concerns, lack of employment opportunities, or old age.
- Most employers deny employment for even qualified and skilled transgender people. To create a success stories of self-employed Hijras who run food shops, or organise cultural programs are reported in some states. However, those are exceptions. Recently, there have been isolated initiatives that offer mainstream jobs to qualified Transgender women such as agents for Life Insurance Corporation of India.
Exclusion from Political Participation
- Legal issues include: legal recognition of their gender identity, same-sex marriage, child adoption, inheritance, wills and trusts, immigration status, Pension schemes for transgender women, employment discrimination, and access to public and private health benefits. Especially, getting legal recognition of gender identity as a woman or transgender woman is a complicated process. Lack of legal recognition has important consequences in getting government ration shop card, passport, and bank account.
Right to Vote
- Transgender people now have the option to vote as a woman or ‘other’. However, the legal validity of the voter’s identity card in relation to confirming one’s gender identity is not clear. Hijras had contested elections in the past. It has been documented that the victory of a transgender person who contested in an election was overturned since that person contested as a ‘female’, which was thus considered a fraud and illegal. Thus, the right to contest in elections is yet to be realised.
I request you all to support the Transgender community and help me to get the Equal Rights for them and make their own life fruitful like we all had since we are born.