Third Gender: A segregated social class

By Anima Bhargva

20841-CoverAFP-1391160272-667-640x480“There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender. Identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results”- Judith Butter

India is one of the few countries in the world to legally recognize the “third gender”. In early 2014, India’s Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a legal third gender giving them the opportunity to identify as transgender on voting forms and asked the Centre to treat them as socially and economically backward.

A census report of 2011 records that 4, 90, 000 people listed themselves a third gender. About 66% of these people live in rural areas.

The fight for equality for third gender community has had successes and setbacks in recent years. The community has been facing many problems. They have been excluded from social and cultural life, economy and politics. Reports of harassment, violence, denial of services, and unfair treatment against transgender persons in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation have been prevalent. These have faced discrimination, lack of educational facilities, unemployment, lack of shelter and lack of medical facilities.

The agony is that they are considered outcast, unnatural and a number of superstitious beliefs are associated with them. These are compelled to hide their identity as they have little acceptance in the society.  The privileges given to them by the law have not been recognized and they are still being segregated and deprived of the respect as a human being. These are always biased on the basis of their identity and this forces them to join eunuch communities and then given a new name “Hijra”. It is pathetic that all the big definitions of the third gender are written by the people who are not the part of such community. We need to understand that this invariable feeling in them is not an abnormality.

I wish people in the society understand the pain associated with the feeling that one wakes up every single day and realizes why am I this way. Its time we realize how important is the acceptance of their being. Else, least we can do is live our way and let them live their way .We live in a country where a girl is raped in every twenty minutes and that is acceptable but a person who cannot identify with the sex they are born with is not acceptable!

(The author is pursuing M. A. Human Rights from IIHR, New Delhi)

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