Perception of the city through the
lens of a hijra
Should build a case towards perception of the city.
Main body + annexure + excerpts
Hijras of Mumbai
• Mumbai’s hijra community is estimated to be over a
lakh strong, but there is no official figure. Around
40,000 had identified themselves as ‘Transgender’
in a survey in 2011.
• “Describing hijra as transgender” is simply so that
we have an equivalent in English.
• The hijra identity is unique because of its ‘third
gender’ identity preference, Jamaat subculture,
and acceptance of third gender within the India
society because of their religious cultural
Livelihood- Transgender of Mumbai
• Means of securing basic necessities: Food, Shelter,
• Capacity of acquiring them: Skills, Employability
• Hijra’s or Transgenders usually live collectively in
• In Mumbai and Thane, many such ghettos exist in
neighbourhoods like Dharavi, Ghatkopar, Bhandup,
Byculla, and Malad.
• The eviction of the poor from the city of Mumbai takes its
toll on the ghettos. They begin to shrink in size. The
hijras then disperse toward townships like Navi Mumbai
where survival is a bit easier.
• Transgender or gender non-conforming individuals are disowned by
families and society (62.7%,Naco – India) leading to loss of
Forced migration, Loss of birth ID proof
Community Living ( Guru/Chela) Or Individual Living
Deprivation of Higher Education, Forced to attain alternative means of earning.
Livelihood vulnerability directly increases risk and vulnerability to HIV. National HIV
prevalence is 0.31%, whereas HIV prevalence among the transgender community is
estimated to be 8.2%.
In order to be a part of the community, the chela’s must manage the household
chores. This exchange is supplemented by monetary contributions from their
daily earnings too.
Picture: KobiWolf Photojournalist
• Begging is the main livelihood option among transgender persons
(52%), followed by Sex-work (14%) and giving blessings on
• Children or young adults usually run away from homes once they
discover their sexuality and have little option but to join the guru-
chela system. The guru looks after the understudy and help him/her
mould their lives.
• Maharashtra is the second state to constitute a welfare board for
• They can qualify for Class IV government jobs under reservation.
AVANYA, WHO SPEAKS IMPECCABLE ENGLISH,
SHARES AN EXPERIENCE AT A JOB INTERVIEW.
“I WAS SELECTED AT A COMPANY IN GOREGAON;
WE EVEN DISCUSSED THE SALARY. THEY
OFFERED ME RS 24,000.... I AGREED BUT WHILE
PROCESSING MY DOCUMENTS, WHICH INDICATED
THAT I AM A TG, THEY POLITELY TOLD ME I
WOULD NOT BE ACCEPTED. WHAT COULD I SAY?”
Internal – External Interaction
• Although most hijras are reticent, it’s known that the community is headed
by seven secretive nayaks who live in Byculla. They also have a panchayat.
• The community also has a panchayat of its own where disputes are settled
and punishments handed out.
• A blend of hindu-muslim cultural identity is one of its kinds in gharanas and
castration is considered as a gateway to womanhood.
Gharanas – Community
Regulated by Jamaats
Headed by Nayaks
Daughters ( naathis)
Granddaughters ( saadak Naathis )
• At the recently held Trans
Empowerment Mela organised by
Anam Prem some individuals have
taken up entrepreneurial roles despite
Rituals and Traditions
• Since death is a somber affair, burial or cremation takes place without any
fanfare. Some also believe that they carry out their death rituals at night.
• The central ceremony of hijra life is the emasculation operation. It is viewed
as a rebirth; the new eunuch created by it is called a Nirvan.
• Kinnars are known to crash weddings and appear at birth celebrations
demanding lots of money. Everyone is eager to pay for good fortune.
• They do not entertain the media, nor do they encourage talk about
Project Bolo Interview Nisha
• When did you first meet people like you?
• Were there any other places apart from R gate where you met people like you and felt
comfortable? - between city bus stop and r gate for social interaction ‘after 9 pm’
• Influence of Bombay – Sex change
• What did you find in bombay? – Malwani first ghetto, cant go in the day in pant shirt. Asha
guru. Didn’t let her out. Dholak playing with guru in weddings. Monday – ghatkoper
Tuesday – Santacruz Wedneday – Malad for shops.
• Hotels, Shops become a way of identifying the city – Reference nishas trip to mumbai as a
• Dahisar east – nemployment inspite of learning ;
• House near railway can hear it in the background.
Find out relation between ghettos and railway
Nisha – dadar to south mombai, dadar to dahisar. Had no knowledge about harbour line.
What made her sedentary for 11 years? Mumbai gave her an opportunity to work in a
community for it.
Community based organiation – CBO
Interview with Laxmi Narayan
• Ashok Row kavi- First homosexual public, Maheshwari
Garden the mecca.
• Were there places you could meet others? Maheshwari
garden kings circle, meeting. Bandra,Bandstand.
• Thane st stand, Talao pali, used to dress up.
• Queer Safe spaces?
• Drag queen contests, parties
• Bhandup, Solapur for Hijras in sex work
• vajeshwari hot springs is religious
• Guru is like a guardian, 7 families, 7 heads.
• lashkar house on 2nd floor, lata naik guru initiated her.
Monday : Victoria Terminus and Churchgate
Tuesday : Bandra
Thursday: Sandoz Road
Friday: Masjid Bunder
Saturday: Sion Koliwada