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Transgender – a gender without gender
In the entire world, there is not a single country, state, city, town, village or locality where people of this tribe are not found. As they lay oppressed under the curse of moral lords, they are still treated as inferior creations, even in free, democratic, secular and socialist societies, forget about their fate in theocratic Islamic nations. Time has changed but not their lot.

The other consequences of prejudice include the discrimination and violence — often sexual and utterly savage — they have to suffer. The positive aspect is that the judiciary and the administration have made noticeable efforts to de-marginalise transgenders. The most outstanding contribution has been made by several milestone judgements by the Honourable Supreme Court. It recognised the transgender as the third gender along with the male and female. Stating, "Recognition of Transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, who wrote and pronounced the ruling, said that the right of transgender persons to choose their self-identified gender was also to be upheld. 

He further directed the Central and state governments to legally recognise their gender identity as male, female or as a third gender, howsoever they may choose. The judgement, which powerfully recalled the bias and distress, transgenders underwent, called for positive action favouring them in education, primary healthcare, employment and a wide range of social welfare schemes.

Historians, sociologist and psychologists say they were not such people who have no gender or transgender. Their fate was better under Mughal lords. They used to keep them to lessen the shortage of women and girls. Beautiful and handsome boys were castrated and kept and called as ' nadas' to gratify the sexual urge of Mughal lords. In the daytime they were used to serve their women like messaging, pressing their legs, buttocks and heads. Some time they and sometimes women used to play with them erotically and again in the nights and parties their men folk used to have sex with them and sometimes very violent and erotic.

Mughal, invaders like Muhammad Ghori, Mahamood Gazni, Taimur, Nadir Shah, Allauddin, Babur, etc., after defeating Hindu king, used to enslave handsome, beautiful and attractive Rajput and Brahmin boys. After castrating them they were also used as sex slaves and used to serve and live in their harems and private brothels with female inmates. Still, such practices exist in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Boys are castrated as eunuchs and kept as sex slaves and are called 'Nada'. Hindu epics, the Puranas and mythology are replete with the courageous feats of true hermaphrodites who, within these scriptures, have always been referred to as the 'third sex.' "But after the Arab attack in the eighth century, castration of males in order to put them on specific jobs began on a large scale," writes SN Ranade Centuries ago, guards to king's harems were castrated to ensure that no co-habitation between royal wives and guards took place. This led to the creation of the 'third sex' – the castrated eunuchs. Many males found them distractingly attractive. The Sanskrit term "Tritiya Prakriti," or third nature, is used to classify them. They are considered infertile persons, with female gender identity, with masculine secondary sexual characteristics, with or without male external genitalia, with a feminine gender role, with a predominantly homosexual identity.

Hijras have a recorded history of more than 4,000 years. Ancient myths bestow them with special powers to bring luck and fertility. Despite this supposedly sanctioned place in Indian culture, hijras face severe harassment and discrimination from mainstream people in society. Balucharaji is their Goddess and they revere Ambe Mata, there are religious demarcations. Most of them identify with the female sex. Most of them have worked as prostitutes at one time or another. Serena Nanda's research shows that some persons labelled hijra in India are both prostitutes and celebrants of rites of passage.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill of 2016, is pending in the Parliament. The Bill states that they had to submit themselves to examination by a District Screening Committee for being recognised as such. The definition of a transgender given in the bill is as "(A) neither wholly female nor wholly male, or (B) a combination of female or male; or (C) neither female nor male." It is founded on a hetero-sexual worldview. They are like left-over gender. But they are just like ordinary human beings. One should try to look beyond the transgender label and understand these people as humans. Like ordinary humans, they also explore love, relationship, friendship and sexual love.

Most of the people still think about the mythical part of their life. Their world is very mysterious. But a majority of the people have emotional discontent with them. They have their own world. It is no different from other humans. They wake up, play, joke around and go in search of parties where they can get money and offerings. There weekends and evenings are very romantic and colourful. They go shopping, spend time with lovers and sex partners and most of them are very fond of drinking. They all have dreams and dreams about a good life. But realizations of their dreams are not easy, rather impossible. Their parents abandon most of them. Majority of them are sex workers but in Islamic nations, they are bonded sex slaves. In Islamic nations, rich and powerful keep them as the caretaker for their women and for sex for men. Now a debate is raging about their rights across the world. So many transgenders feel that they are men and some feel they are women. They also love among transgender and feel and live like husband-wife.

"God made them different. They are neither men nor women. They also wish to live and sleep as husband and wife. In this world all care Dalits, minorities, women, family, children, disabled, pregnant women, drug addicts, criminals etc., but none cares for transgender. Most transgender, sleep on the roadsides and the slums. They are assaulted and teased by the people. The Supreme Court had accorded equal status to the third gender in 2014 but it has not changed their condition. Even nobody has had real data about their numbers. "The Supreme Court may have recognized the third gender but when they die, they do not get recognition." (Anjaann Joshii, Executive Director, SPACE (Society for People's Awareness, Care and Empowerment, Hindustan Times, New-Delhi).

There are established guidelines for the endocrine and overall treatment of transsexual persons. These guidelines provide information about the optimal endocrine management of male-to-female and female-to-male transsexual persons. Now, the community is beginning to make a mark in the national mainstream as well. A member of the eunuch community, Shabnam Mausi, was elected as a member of the legislative assembly in 1999. Others have been elected as mayors and municipality presidents. The eunuchs can, therefore, be termed as male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals. The aetiology of transsexualism or gender identity disorder is controversial. MTF transsexual persons may have abnormal hormonal imprinting, genetic makeup, or psychological attitude toward gender. They constitute a heterogeneous group of people, rather than conforming to a single genotypic or sexual stereotype.

The term hijra is often translated as "eunuch" and the archetypal hijra is raised as a man and undergoes ritual removal of the genitals to become a hijra. However, anthropologist Serena Nanda explains that many hijras come from other sexually ambiguous backgrounds: they may be born intersexed, be born male or female and fail to develop fully at puberty, or be males who choose to live as hijras without ever undergoing the castration procedure. The cultural category "hijra" appears to be a magnet for a variety of sexual and gender conditions: ambiguous sexual anatomy, impotence, infertility, homosexuality, and others, which may not have an analogue in Western cultures.

Nanda writes that the crude surgery is done by dais (country nurses) whose 'training' is based solely on experience. The eunuchs call this 'operation' 'nirvana' meaning 'mukti' because the act suggests a 'transition' of the person from one 'life' to another. Indian legal statutes do not permit such forced castration of males and therefore, there is absolute secrecy around the act of 'nirvana.' The operation is always conducted between three and four before the crack of dawn, while it is still dark, and no one else but the dai-maa and her assistant is present for this 'ceremonial' ritual. The whole act is given the colour of a religious ritual like the acceptance of Deeksha for a better life in the next birth.

In 1990, Dr B.V. Subramaniam of the Surat Medical College wrote a paper based on his research on the making of a eunuch. The study reported that most eunuchs in India were the result of forced castration… The genitals of a normally born male baby are slashed off with a knife dipped in boiling oil. After dressing the wound, a nail with a string attached is tied to the waist and drilled into the stump, which would, with medication and time, begins to look somewhat like a female crotch. In cases of castration, Subramaniam's paper says that breasts develop because of the seat of the male hormones – testicles – already removed. When the female hormones take over, the growth of secondary sexual characteristics, such as the growth of facial hair, is restricted. So, also the regular change in voice. Castrated or not, eunuchs are sexually active.

During the British rule, the local government was required to keep a register of the names and residences of all eunuchs who were "reasonably suspected of kidnappings or castrating children or committing offences under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code." This section is mostly used or misused, to 'deal' with the hijra community, as well as homosexuals in India. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal," even if it is voluntary.

The law, which is traced back to colonial ideas of morality, in effect, presumes that a hijra or a homosexual is engaging in "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" this making this entire class of one of the most marginalised communities susceptible. After a long struggle, the eunuch community has succeeded in a small measure; by convincing the bureaucracy to allow them to enter "E" in forms, database sheets and other official documents like passport application forms, where they have to enter their 'sex' instead of the routine "M" or "F" which does not apply to them. Medical science states that hermaphrodite 'males' are those born with testicles only and some sexual characteristics of a genetically born female, but no ovaries. Hermaphrodite 'females' on the other hand, are born with ovaries and with some sexual characteristics of the male sex but no testicles.

Pseudohermaphrodites, both 'male' and 'female' are not very many while true hermaphrodites can be counted on one's fingertips. Living in a society intolerant of deviant behaviour, hijras, mostly poor and illiterate, look upon themselves as cursed for the sins of their past life. Though mostly gay or transvestite, hijras believe they are sexless persons, neither male nor female. They practice bizarre rituals to win from God their one great wish: to be born as man or woman in their next life. The story goes that after a eunuch dies the others of the group give the dead body 27 beatings with their slippers so that the person is never again born a eunuch.

It is a community unto itself, a sect within themselves, united like the family system. There are seven nation-wide communal households known as gharanas. Each has its own history and rules of behaviour. Each household is headed by a Nayak who appoints a guru or a preacher trained to protect the community members, whose disciples are referred to as chelas or students and traditionally amount to about five per guru. Before entering the community, the hijra has to live in satla (female attire) and observe the community for at least a year.

In Mani Ratnam's 'Bombay', did one get to see the secularity and the tenderness of hijra and the empathy she reveals towards little children? In a touching scene in 'Bombay', a hijra offers shelter to the two little twins of Arvind and Monisha Koirala. In effect, she saves their lives. She is not bothered by the communal identity of the kids. And then, we know that Mani Ratnam has made his point: a hijra can be a good human being only if we let her show this goodness.

Kalpana Lajmi empathised with a hijra forced to live within the mainstream through her film 'Darmiyaan'. In 'Jodhaa Akbar', a hijra, instead of hamming up the usual comic role, was portrayed as a trusted lieutenant of the female lead. When the original eunuch on whose life Pooja Bhatt's 'Tamanna' was based, died a tragic death in Mumbai, the filmmaker hardly bothered. Her work was done. He was the subject of an unusual mainstream film, which bagged for its producer, a National Award. What more did the filmmaker want? The government of Bihar, since 2006, has employed eunuchs as tax collectors, singing loudly about the debt outside the defaulter's premises until they are shamed into paying up? one of the most effective tax recovery methods ever used in India.

In Mumbai too, B.R. Shetty, a retired banker, when he was 45 in 2001, employed a group of eunuchs to help him recover the dues of his credit society. Shetty's Unique Recovery Services housed in Matunga in Mumbai played a significant role in recovering bank loans and another such lending from reputed financial institutions in an unabashedly different manner. Shetty's eunuch employees go about their task diligently, at times creating an ambience of light humour and fun. This has been more effective than other threatening tactics. Afraid of being ridiculed by these thoroughly uninhibited groups, people who shy away from payment decide to pay back their loans within a reasonable time span. Shetty devised this unique plan with the help of former Mumbai deputy municipal commissioner G.R. Khairnar. Shetty firmly believes that eunuchs are better equipped with the power of persuasion than traditional debt collectors. Yet, It is difficult to understand this strange individual we meet in the train or on the streets, with embellished gestures, a low-cut blouse sans breasts, a voice so rough and manly and a manner so obscenely revolting that our instant reaction is to shy away in antipathy. We silently fume at this person's sense in demanding – some money in exchange for a package deal in blessings – such, paisa and beta.

When a section of human beings becomes a cliche of our making, never mind the pressures of our social conditioning, it is time we questioned their claim to be treated only as normal human beings who can love and hate, construct and destroy, as strongly and as powerfully as ordinary mortals can.

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