Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
India’s Hijra Culture
Who are “Hijras?” <ul><li>In India (and other south Asian countries), hijras are traditionally seen as neither men nor wom...
Who are “Hijras?”  (cont.) <ul><li>Most hijras are physically male or intersexed but identify as female through their clot...
History of Hijras <ul><li>The Kama Sutra (ancient Indian text regarding human sexual behavior, compiled in the 2 nd  centu...
History of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>From 1858 to 1947, India was ruled by the British, who believed hijras were of unpleasa...
History of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>After independence was given to India, anti-hijra laws were revoked.  However, the law ...
Religious Aspects <ul><li>In Hindu contexts, hijras are thought to be a part of a higher caste system. They honor Bahuchar...
Religious Aspects  (cont.) <ul><li>In the state of Tamil Nadu, there is an annual 18-day religious festival where villager...
Religious Aspects  (cont.) <ul><li>In religious contexts, hijras can bless or curse others. They approach young men in pub...
Lifestyle of Hijras <ul><li>Although census data does not exist, it is estimated that there are about 50,000 to 500,000 Hi...
Lifestyle of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>Due to stigma, hijras usually live in ostracized communities in poorer urban district...
Lifestyle of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>Although hijras have come together and form “families,” their living situations are o...
Lifestyle of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>As sex workers, hijras bring paying customers back to their homes for business. The p...
Lifestyle of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>Because Indian society generally does not view hijras in a favorable light any longer...
Lifestyle of Hijras  (cont.) <ul><li>Because hijras are marginalized from most Indian societies, violence against them, es...
Video on Hijras’ Lifestyles <ul><li>The following is a video clip that depicts the lives of many hijras.  Please copy and ...
Recent Government Support <ul><li>Just this year, the Indian government allowed MTF transgender people to get identity car...
Recent Government Support  (cont.) <ul><li>Before this government support, many transgender individuals visited untrained ...
Recent Government Support  (cont.) <ul><li>In addition, this year the Election Commission of India added the option of usi...
Recent Government Support  (cont.) <ul><li>Furthermore, the government of Tamil Nadu will soon create public restrooms spe...
Clinical Significance <ul><li>Research on transgender cultures has mostly focused in North America and Europe.  Of 235 sig...
Clinical Significance  (cont.) <ul><li>The Indian transgender community are neglected and ostracized from most Indian soci...
Clinical Implications <ul><li>Since there is a limited amount of research that focuses on hijras’ psychological wellbeing,...
Questions to the Class <ul><li>There are similarities between the Indian Hijra culture and the Amerian MTF transgender cul...
References <ul><li>(2009). India recognises ‘other’ gender in voter lists. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://infoch...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

HIJRA CULTURE

51,331 views

Published on

Published in: Education, News & Politics

HIJRA CULTURE

  1. 1. India’s Hijra Culture
  2. 2. Who are “Hijras?” <ul><li>In India (and other south Asian countries), hijras are traditionally seen as neither men nor women, but rather as third-sex. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Aravanis” is the term given to transgender individuals in northern India, who experience less stigma than hijras. (However, this presentation will only focus on hijras). </li></ul>Balaji & Malloy, 1997
  3. 3. Who are “Hijras?” (cont.) <ul><li>Most hijras are physically male or intersexed but identify as female through their clothing and personality. They also communicate in a language that is strictly used by females. </li></ul><ul><li>Hijras are sometimes called “eunuchs” (castrated males), however less than 10% have sex re-construction surgery. </li></ul>Preston, 1987
  4. 4. History of Hijras <ul><li>The Kama Sutra (ancient Indian text regarding human sexual behavior, compiled in the 2 nd century) mentioned a third-sex (“tritiya prakriti”). </li></ul><ul><li>Hijras were also recognized throughout the history of Hinduism, and were hired as honorable servants (eunuchs) to the noble classes of Islamic societies. </li></ul>Preston, 1987
  5. 5. History of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>From 1858 to 1947, India was ruled by the British, who believed hijras were of unpleasant public decency. Although the British rule prohibited men from becoming hijras, the Indian communities still accepted hijras as respectable figures with magical powers. Hijras were not generally seen as strange until the mid-1900s. </li></ul><ul><li>From the 1920s to 1940s, Gandhi led his followers to eradicate the erotic depictions of homoeroticism that were carved into Hindu temples around the 11 th century. Hijras were associated as being a part of this homoeroticism, and Gandhi felt that these behaviors were a result of foreign influences (mainly Western societies). </li></ul>Preston, 1987; Conner, 1997;
  6. 6. History of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>After independence was given to India, anti-hijra laws were revoked. However, the law prohibiting castration, which is a central part of many hijras, was upheld. Although, this law is hardly enforced. </li></ul><ul><li>Even after the independence, most Indian societies hold that hijras are associated with homoeroticism, and view them in a negative light. </li></ul>Preston, 1987
  7. 7. Religious Aspects <ul><li>In Hindu contexts, hijras are thought to be a part of a higher caste system. They honor Bahuchara Mata, the mother goddess, as well as a supreme god, Shiva. To Muslims, hijras are believed to be the outcome of Allah’s will. </li></ul><ul><li>In both Hinduism and Islam, hijras follow Islamic customs (e.g., hijras choose to be buried instead of cremate). </li></ul>Reddy, 2005
  8. 8. Religious Aspects (cont.) <ul><li>In the state of Tamil Nadu, there is an annual 18-day religious festival where villagers re-enact the legendary wedding of Krishna (a male god who assumed the form of a female) and Arjuna (who lived as a eunuch). </li></ul><ul><li>Hijras from around the country attend this festival. They often help with the annual beauty pageant as well as various health and HIV/AIDS discussions. </li></ul>Reddy, 2005
  9. 9. Religious Aspects (cont.) <ul><li>In religious contexts, hijras can bless or curse others. They approach young men in public and ask them for money. If refused, hijras may embarrass them by using inappropriate language or gesture. </li></ul><ul><li>Hijras also frequently show up uninvited at weddings and at male birthing ceremonies. If received by the host families, the hijras play music, sing, and dance sexually. This is thought to bestow good luck and fertility. Religious families who accept hijras offer money and/or clothing in appreciation. Religious families may fear the hijras’ curse if they are not appreciated, bringing bad luck or infertility. </li></ul>Reddy, 2005
  10. 10. Lifestyle of Hijras <ul><li>Although census data does not exist, it is estimated that there are about 50,000 to 500,000 Hijras in India. </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike Western transsexual women, hijras usually do not attempt to “pass” as women. Less than 10% of them have genital modifications. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually those who have the modifications believe that a “true hijra” must be castrated. </li></ul></ul>Preston, 1987
  11. 11. Lifestyle of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>Due to stigma, hijras usually live in ostracized communities in poorer urban districts. To build a sense of “family” with other hijras, one must become a “chela” (student) to another hijra “guru” (teacher). Usually, each guru adopts at least five chelas. Her chelas assume her surname and are viewed as part of her lineage. Chelas are expected to give all their earnings to their guru, who manages the welfare of the household. Although hijra communities are comprised of several families, all families tend to be close with one another. </li></ul>Balaji & Malloy, 1997
  12. 12. Lifestyle of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>Although hijras have come together and form “families,” their living situations are often unpleasant. Hijra families live in run-downed buildings located in many urban slums. </li></ul>Balaji & Malloy, 1997
  13. 13. Lifestyle of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>As sex workers, hijras bring paying customers back to their homes for business. The pictures show how filthy the conditions are (notice several used condoms on the floor). </li></ul><ul><li>Because of sex work, hijras are at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. </li></ul>Balaji & Malloy, 1997
  14. 14. Lifestyle of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>Because Indian society generally does not view hijras in a favorable light any longer, hijras have many challenges with professional employment. Hijras mostly beg for money in public areas or are involved with commercial sex. Rarely do they make money from unexpectedly showing up at birthing ceremonies. </li></ul>Subramaniam & Jayaraman, 2009
  15. 15. Lifestyle of Hijras (cont.) <ul><li>Because hijras are marginalized from most Indian societies, violence against them, especially as sex workers, can be quite brutal and often happens in public places (i.e., their homes, police stations, prisons). </li></ul><ul><li>Similar to most transgender individuals around the world, hijras experience discrimination in bureaucracy, law, education, employment, immigration, health, and housing. </li></ul>Maru, 2003
  16. 16. Video on Hijras’ Lifestyles <ul><li>The following is a video clip that depicts the lives of many hijras. Please copy and paste it into an internet browser. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QntUgXwzZH0 </li></ul>
  17. 17. Recent Government Support <ul><li>Just this year, the Indian government allowed MTF transgender people to get identity cards stating who they are as the new gender. Before these cards, it was challenging to prove who they are, which created numerous problems (e.g. passports, banking, education, medical, employment, social security benefits). Now, these cards will help MTFs receive proper medical treatments at government hospitals. </li></ul>Subramaniam & Jayaraman, 2009
  18. 18. Recent Government Support (cont.) <ul><li>Before this government support, many transgender individuals visited untrained people who performed sexual re-assignment surgery at a very high price. There were also health risks involved since there were no health standards or proper training. Now, transgender people can receive these surgeries free of cost at government hospitals. </li></ul>Subramaniam & Jayaraman, 2009
  19. 19. Recent Government Support (cont.) <ul><li>In addition, this year the Election Commission of India added the option of using “other” on the voter ballot. Before, the ballots forced transgender people to select either “male” or “female.” This movement has been supported by several civil rights groups, ensuring that the government recognizes the transgender community as part of society. </li></ul>Victory for eunuchs in India, 2009
  20. 20. Recent Government Support (cont.) <ul><li>Furthermore, the government of Tamil Nadu will soon create public restrooms specifically for transgender people in the slum cities where many transgender families reside (i.e., Kothamedu, Theedeer Nagar and Athuma Naga slums). </li></ul>Sinha, 2009
  21. 21. Clinical Significance <ul><li>Research on transgender cultures has mostly focused in North America and Europe. Of 235 significant publications on transgender studies from 1992 to 2002, around 90% were studies based on these two Western societies. Only about 7% has been on Asian societies. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Clinical Significance (cont.) <ul><li>The Indian transgender community are neglected and ostracized from most Indian societies. Because of this marginalization, hijras are at high risk of suffering from many psychological, societal, and financial problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Further research can be conducted on hijras in order to help make their lives more comfortable and productive in society, as they were many decades ago. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Clinical Implications <ul><li>Since there is a limited amount of research that focuses on hijras’ psychological wellbeing, no clinical implications can be found by the presenter. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Questions to the Class <ul><li>There are similarities between the Indian Hijra culture and the Amerian MTF transgender culture (e.g., ostracism, sex work, job discrimination). Although these nations are far apart and these cultures are so unique in their own ways, what may explain why there are these similarities? </li></ul><ul><li>Although religion is very valuable to many Indian people, why might you think Hijras have become so ostracized, especially when they were seen as respected shamanic figures in the past (to royal families and many religions in India)? </li></ul>
  25. 25. References <ul><li>(2009). India recognises ‘other’ gender in voter lists. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://infochangeindia.org/200911178024/Human-Rights/News/India-recognises-‘other’-gender-in-voter-lists.html </li></ul><ul><li>Balaji, M., & Malloy, R. L. (1997). Hijras: Who we are . Toronto: Think Asia Publisher. </li></ul><ul><li>Conner, R. P., Lundschen, D. H. S., & Sparks, M. (1997). Encyclopedia of queer myth, symbol, and spirit.  London: Cassell. </li></ul><ul><li>Maru, V. (2003). Ravaging the vulnerable: Abuses against persons at high risk of HIV infections in Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch , 15, 1-54. </li></ul><ul><li>Preston, L. W. (1987). A right to exist: Eunuchs and the state in nineteenth-century India. Modern Asian Studies, 21 , 371-387. </li></ul><ul><li>Reddy, G. (2005). With respect to sex: Negotiating hijra identity in South India . Chicago: University of Chicago Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Sinha, C. (2009, March 9). Chinnai: Move on toilets for transgenders sparks off debate. Express India . Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Chennai-Move-on-toilets-for-transgenders-sparks-off-debate/432575/ </li></ul><ul><li>Subramaniam, K., & Jayaraman, V. (2009, November 20). NDTV Trangender Changes. Retrived November 20, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZggHxuDL-Ik&feature=player_embedded# </li></ul><ul><li>Victory for eunuchs in India. (2009, November 13). All Things Considered. [Radio News Program]. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://www.theworld.org/2009/11/13/victory-for-eunuchs-in-india/ </li></ul>

×