Easy targets for social scorn

As citizens, the Constitution provides them equal rights but every day is a struggle to survive for transgender people

Urmi Jadhav, a transgender woman.

Urmi Jadhav, Mumbai-based research assistant with Humsafar Trust, that advocates rights and health of LGBT people in India.

Born a male, she runs campaigns, conducts workshops, and holds interactions with the Hijra (inter-sex) community as well as sensitisation programmes with the police and college students.

“There are all kinds of myths about us, apart from the stigma. Not only are there wrong notions about us but people take advantage of us. If we rent a room, we have to pay more. When begging on trains, the hijra is the cop’s first target,” said Urmi.

A hierarchy system in this community takes care of everyone who are a part of it but “our struggle for survival is an everyday exercise,” said Urmi.

Sharanya Rao, programme associate, NGO, Nazariya, a Dlhi-based non-profit resource group.

“Representation on a public forum, like that of Marvia Malik, not only contributes to the normalisation of the trans community in mainstream society, but also provides others in the community an important role model,” says Rao.

“The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, is currently tabled in Parliament. This bill defines a transgender individual as one who is ‘neither wholly male, nor wholly female’.

“This is not only an insulting terminology based on biological determination, but conflates ‘transgender’ with ‘intersex’ variations.

“There’s a need to expand our understanding of gender beyond a male/female or man/woman binary and examining gender norms and roles. Especially families, who worry about their social standing and judgement by others, stigmatise trans people,” Rao said.

Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of Aids Society of India and consultant in HIV/STD He was the first medical professional to do a dissertation for his postgraduate studies on the Pattern of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) among Hijras (intersex people). That was in 1983.

“Now, 35 years later, a sea change has come in their lives since they are educated and far more aware of their health issues,” he says.

… school or in their friends’ circle. As youngsters, many run away from home, eventually joining Hijra communities, said Dr Gilada.

Though they find employment difficult in general, banks employ them, “usually as loan recovery agents,” he said.

— By Nilima Pathak and Pamela Raghunath, Correspondents

Share This Post