In short, you can say - they lead a shameful life. They have only restricted access to education, health services and public spaces, restricted rights to marry, right to contest elections, right to vote, employment and livelihood opportunities. 17% to 40% of them suffer from venereal diseases and HIV. It is fifty times higher than the general adult population of the country.
Some religions accord them ambivalent recognition which doesn’t alleviate their sufferings. No proper guidelines were ever designed by any governing bodies and their anatomical challenges are usually are met by their own back-alley apothecary. Off late, some awareness towards their plight is shown by the society and the educated and progressive members of this community are coming out and demanding justice and talking about their rights.
Way back in 1993, they established a self-run hijra ‘Welfare Association’ to improve their social status. In 2008, the government finally set up The National AIDS Control Programme - III which acknowledged safety and privacy concerns of hijras.
In 2008, Tamil Nadu government formed the first transgender ‘Welfare Board’ in the Asia-Pacific region. The board addresses issues like education access and social security for transgender people. It facilitated the free gender reassignment surgery in specifically assigned hospitals.
In November 2009, the Delhi High Court granted the right to transgender people to check “other” while choosing their gender on voter ID cards, which allowed many transgender Indians to vote for the first time.
India got accolades from United Nations for taking initiative in this field. It is strange that even today, non-binary genders are not properly recognized in the United States.
Coy Mathis was six years old transgender and he was not allowed to use the girl’s restroom because he was assigned male certificate at birth. According to The Newyork Times “Coy's school didn't report any problem with her using the girls' room; they barred her from it nonetheless, singling her out for a special bathroom.”And this is what the school had to say –"As Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls' restroom."
It is well known fact that many adult transgender and gender-nonconforming children face bullying, harassment and discrimination in America.
It is a stark truth that discrimination against transgenders is real, pervasive and often legal. However, the latest real-life story of Dwayne Jones from Montego Bay, Jamaica is heart rending and alarming.
She was born as a boy but developed the effeminate symptoms. Discovering the third gender of his existence, his / her father kicked him out of the house. To add insult to injury, the cruel and heartless father helped the jeering neighbors push from the slum Jones grew up. She was sixteen when he dared to join a ‘straight street party’ as a girl and dressed as a girl.
She was beaten, shot and run over by a car. He made a mistake of sharing her intention to one of his friends who spilled the beans. The friends of his friend gathered around her and asked about the gender. One of them lighted a flame near the sneakers while the other snapped the bra strap.
Jones tried to to race down the street. And finally a car decided to write the last chapter of her unfortunate life. The irony is that none of the 300 participants of the party helped or tried to save her life. Police has so far failed to gather a single witness to prepare a legal action. Not a single arrest could have been made.