All posts tagged: Transgender

India’s Third Gender

India’s Hijras became officially recognised by law in 2014 as ‘The Third Gender’, despite a 4000-year history in the country. Historically, Hijras were most commonly recorded as eunuchs, neither man nor female, which is how the term Third Gender came about. However, in modern times Hijras have since expanded to become a sect of the LGBTQ community and now include persons who identify as transgender or intersex. While some Hijras are happy to be in an anonymous gender category, other wish to identify as their chosen gender. With an estimated 2 million Hijras living in India, the complexity and diversity of understanding the needs and protecting the rights of this gender-variant subgroup continue to grow. Once celebrated in ancient Hindi texts such as the Kama Sutra and Mahabaratha, the existence of Hijras as empowered beings with special powers of luck and fertility can be traced back for centuries in India. Hijras traditionally played a valued role in their communities, using their powers to perform blessings at many sacred occasions, from births, weddings, and deaths.