Auntyji says, ‘Aaha beta Akshara, bada sona question hai, but let me start by saying that no one ‘turns into’ a hijra. I'll explain'.
Odd but who
So puttar, tell me one thing – when the hijra came to your home, what did you do? What did others do? How did they behave… a bit funny? A bit oddly– haina puttar? As if something from outer space has landed?
Jab ki beta, they are like you and me or rather should I say, we are like them too – just human beings. Unfortunately, this identity (hijra) is so shrouded in mystery and confusion that no one really knows and still no one is really talking clearly. Haina?
Unique in many ways
Asal mein beta, hijra is a gender identity unique to our part of the world, that is South Asia.
Hijras are one of many transgender term identities, where people do not relate to the gender given to them at birth. Nahi samjhe? Arey haven’t you seen in movies – the nurse declaring ladka hua hain, ladki hui hai! But what if you are a ladka that feels like a ladki or a ladki that feels like a ladka? That’s transgender ka saada wala definition.
But the situation here is more pechida. Not all transgender people are hijras. Like your Aunty said earlier, hijra is one transgender identity where people (mostly male) who feel differently from the sex given to them at birth and who want to be a female. They take on that role and present themselves as women.
We have often seen them sing, dance and engage in social activities when babies are born, at weddings etc and earn money out of that. Hijras often live in formal and organised communities. A commonplace derogatory term for hijras is chakkas, which you should avoid using at all cost.
Always around, never accepted
Do you know Akshara, hijras have always been a part of our society, but have always faced discriminated due to the taboos associated with transgender identities. Because of these taboos, over the centuries, families rejected their transgender children and no meaningful employment opportunities were ever made available for transgender people (who openly expressed their identity). Thus arose the need for transgender people to organise themselves into communes.
One myth associated with the hijras is that they bring good luck and so the tradition emerged of hijras performing at marriage and birth ceremonies – one of the very few means available to earn a living. Many hijras also get forced into sex work. Years of such economic and social marginalisation has meant that most people fear and shun hijras and assume that they have no ‘sharam’, or that they are ‘cheap and vulgar.’
A whole new world
But naya zamana is bringing in positive changes. More and more parents are raising their transgender children normally and enabling them to become members of the society in a manner that’s not related to their gender identity. Even transgender people, who have formally joined the hijra community, are breaking centuries of taboos to work and participate in society as equals, with proper rights and a solid place in society! The new third gender law is further helping cement this change. But there is much still to be done betaji.
Be the change
Akshara, you and your friends are the leaders of this new world. Make sure then that the ball is not dropped on this change! The biggest deal in all this is to treat everyone as you like to be treated yourself. Hijras may look or behave very different from us. But that does not mean they should be humiliated or shown down – yes?
There is a world of people out there beta Akshara – waiting to be embraced and given space. Not just transgender people but also people of various sexual identities, of a different religion, caste, colour, and creed. Bas puttar, yeh hi gull hai! It's up to your generation to bring the change you want to see and want to be.
Chal pher Akshara, get to work… you and all your young friends – bring the change. Be the change.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.