Transgender vs Hijra debate hots up

Published: February 9, 2015

Frank Krishner
Original Article:

After the Supreme Court officially granted them the category of Third sex on April 15 last year, one thought there would be jubilation and new-found solidarity in the transgender ranks as they claim their rights as equal citizens. Instead, there is mewling and scratching and the unsheathing of claws even as babus in the Bihar government inch towards formation of the state’s Transgender Welfare Board.

The battle for controlling the board is between transgenders and Hijras. Exasperated transgender activist Reshma Prasad says, "The Hijras are hogging all the space and are trying their utmost to run the board." Now wait a minute, aren’t Hijras transgenders? "That’s the point. Hijras are a type of transgender, but the vast majority of transgender people are not Hijras," says Reshma. "I am not a Hijra. I do not live in a community and under the orders of a guru. I do not sing and dance and ask for alms. And I have a right to be upset when I am called a Hijra, or confused with a Hijra, and when a Hijra wants to elbow me out and capture a space meant for me."

According to a document put out by the ministry of social justice, transgender has become an "umbrella" term used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including transsexual people, intersexed individuals, and men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, whose appearance or characteristics are perceived to be gender atypical.

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