Transgender and Hijra Community

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In the culture of South Asia, hijras or chakka in Kannada, khusra inPunjabi and kojja in Telugu are physiological males who have feminine gender identity, women's clothing and other feminine gender roles. Hijras have a long recorded history in the Indian subcontinent, from the antiquity, as suggested by the Kama Sutra period onwards. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival. In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-hijra communities, led by a guru. These communities have sustained themselves over generations by "adopting" young boys who are rejected by, or flee their family of origin. Many work as prostitutes for survival. The word hijra is Urdu, derived from the Arabic root hjr in its sense of "leaving one's tribe," and has been borrowed into Hindi. The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite," where "the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition." However, in general hijras are born with typically male physiology, only a few having been born with male intersexvariations. Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of penis, testicles andscrotum. Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have been lobbying for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or "third gender," as neither man nor woman. In North India the goddess Bahuchara Mata is worshiped by Pavaiyaa . In South India, the goddess Renuka is believed to have the power to change one's sex. Male devotees in female clothing are known as Jogappa. They perform similar roles to hijra, such as dancing and singing at birth ceremonies and weddings.[9] The word kothi (or koti) is common across India, similar to the Kathoey of Thailand, although kothis are often distinguished from hijras. Kothis are regarded as feminine men or boys who take a feminine role in sex with men, but do not live in the kind of intentional communities that hijras usually live in. Additionally, not all kothis have undergone initiation rites or the body modification steps to become a hijra.[10] Local equivalents include durani (Kolkata), menaka (Cochin),[11] meti (Nepal), and zenana (Pakistan). Hijra used to be translated in English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite,"[6] although LGBT historians or human rights activists have sought to include them as being transgender.[12] Gender and sexuality

These identities have no exact match in the modern Western taxonomy of gender and sexual orientation,[12] and challenge Western ideas of sex and gender.[4] Most are born apparently male, but some may be intersex (with ambiguous genitalia). They are often perceived as a third sex, and most see themselves as neither men nor women. However, some may see themselves (or be seen as)females,[13] feminine males or androgynes. Some, especially those who speak English and are influenced by international discourses around sexual minorities may identify as transgender ortranssexual women. Unlike some Western transsexual women, hijras generally do not attempt to pass as women. Reportedly, few have genital modifications, although some certainly do, and some consider nirwaan ("castrated") hijras to be the "true" hijras.[6] A male who takes a "receptive" or feminine role in sex with a man will often identify as a kothi (or the local equivalent term). While kothis are usually distinguished from hijras as a separate gender identity, they often dress as women and act in a feminine manner in public spaces, even using feminine language to refer to themselves and each other. The usual partners of hijras and kothis are masculine men, whose gender identity is as a "normal" male who penetrates.[14] These male partners are often married, and any relationships or sex with "kothis" or hijras are usually...
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