Even as the world observes International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, the third genders are not yet fully accepted by the society and face constant harassment and exploitation.
Though countries across the globe celebrate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, people are still not kind towards the alternate sexuality and transgenders (hijras) face discrimination for being different.
The gender-specific rainbow is muddled with labels everywhere in the world but Eunuchs in India are among the worst affected especially in the north-east region of Delhi. Some of them are engaged in the flesh trade and the others resort to begging, singing or dancing. Even when they desire to make a living by working just like women and men do, they aren’t allowed to enter offices or companies.
“Being a transgender means to carry an unnecessary blame or scar,” a member of the community told MIG. “People look at us as inferiors and we are also suspected if robbery or any other criminal activity takes place nearby.
As it is believed in India, when hijras bless people, their blessings turn out to be true and are considered to be very auspicious and yet there is no respect or even sensitivity towards the community.
With very little government and societal support, lack of basic education and family backing, the transgender community is unfortunately still unnoticed, unheard and uncared for.
Zeenat Club in Delhi is an exclusive platform for hijras run by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called the Society for People’s Awareness, Care and Empowerment (SPACE). The club offers activities like self-grooming, health checkups and sale of clothes at discounted prices to the third genders.
Many similar NGOs in the capital are working towards empowering the people belonging to the third gender with an aim to educate them about their rights. But the effort still has to contend with hundreds of others being detained or harassed each month.
Transgenders who made a difference
People like Padmini Prakash and Shabnam Mausi belonging to the third community became India’s first transgender television news anchor and India’s first eunuch Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) respectively.
Following their steps to empower themselves, Kamla Jaan contested and won the elections from Katni district in India to become the world’s first eunuch mayor. During her period as a mayor, she managed the city well and fixed drains and renovated the bus station. But the high court said that Kamla Jaan was not a woman and hence was asked to step down from the post of mayor, which was reserved for a female candidate.
Similarly, Kalki Subramaniam, who is a journalist, writer, actor and activist, became India’s first transgender entrepreneur and also holds a masters degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and International Relations.
Absorbing inspiration, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, transgender rights activist, Hindi film actress and Bharatanatyam dancer, became the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in United Nations (UN) in 2008. “People should be more humane,” she said in the assembly while speaking about the conditions of sexual minorities.