Oct 20, 2007

Transgenders of Mumbai

hijra eunuch transgender mumbai
If there a child born or if there is a wedding in the family in Mumbai, hijra's always visit to bless and collect money. Families gladly give them some mainly to get rid of them and not to create a scene. These hijras can be seen walking across slow moving Mumbai traffic. Hijras are eunuchs.
A eunuch is a castrated man; the term usually refers to those castrated in order to perform a specific social function, as was common in many societies of the past. In the culture of the Indian subcontinent a hijra (also known by a number of different names and romanized spellings) is usually considered a member of "the third sex" — neither man nor woman. Most are physically male or intersex, but some are female. Hijras usually refer to themselves as female at the language level, and usually dress as women. Census data does not exist, but estimates range from 50,000 to 5,000,000 in India alone.


Becoming a hijra is a process of socialization into a "hijra family" through a relationship characterised as chela "student" to guru "teacher", leading to a gradual assumption of femininity. Stereotypically each guru lives with at least five chelas; her chelas assume her surname and are considered part of his lineage. Chelas are expected to give their income to their guru, who manages the household. Hijra families are close knit communities, which often have their own houses.

hijra dancing eunuch mumbaiThis process may culminate in a religious ritual that includes emasculation (total removal of the penis, testes and scrotum in men). Not all hijras undergo emasculation, and the percentage of hijras that are eunuchs is unknown. The operation—referred to by hijras as a nirvan ("rebirth") and carried out by a dai (traditional midwife)—involves removing the penis and scrotum with a knife without anesthesia. In modern times, some hijras may undergo a vaginoplasty, allowing them sexual fulfillment through vaginal intercourse, but such cases are rare. The American transsexual activist Anne Ogborne became an initiated Hijra a few years ago. She is the first westerner to be a member of the Hijra community.

Most hijras live at the margins of society with very low status; the very word "hijra" is sometimes used in a derogatory manner. Few employment opportunities are available to hijras. Many get their income from performing at ceremonies, begging, or prostitution — an occupation of eunuchs also recorded in premodern times. Violence against hijras, especially hijra sex workers, is often brutal, and occurs in public spaces, police stations, prisons, and their homes.[7] As with transgender people in most of the world, they face extreme discrimination in health, housing, education, employment, immigration, law, and any bureaucracy that is unable to place them into male or female gender categories. One hijra reports waiting in the emergency room of a hospital for hours while medical staff debated whether to admit her to the men's or women's ward.

Hijras have earned an income from the Indian government for collecting taxes from the villages and cities, the most effective method ever employed by the India government in collecting taxes still used in some cities.

Hijras are often encountered on streets, trains, and other public places demanding money from young men. If refused, the hijra may attempt to embarrass the man into giving money, using obscene gestures, profane language, and even sexual advances. Hijras also perform religious ceremonies at weddings and at the birth of male babies, involving music, singing, and sexually suggestive dancing. These are intended to bring good luck and fertility. Although the hijra are most often uninvited, the host usually pays the hijras a fee. Many fear the hijras' curse if they are not appeased, bringing bad luck or infertility, but for the fee they receive, they can bless goodwill and fortune on to the newly born. Hijras are said to be able to do this because, since they do not engage in sexual activities, they accumulate their sexual energy which they can use to either bestow a boon or a bane.