Hijras Of Indi Challenging The Sexually Dimorphic Construction Of Gender

1159 Words Dec 4th, 2014 5 Pages
Hijras of India: Challenging the Sexually Dimorphic Construction of Gender
The Hijras of India are typically born male, but they undergo ritual surgery to remove their male genitals in order to establish a new gender identity (Guest, 2014). The Hijras identify with the Hindu Mother Goddess, Bahuchara Mata, who is generally represented as transgendered (Guest, 2014). They typically dress and talk like women, although they are not seen as male nor female (Guest, 2014). They may also engage in sex with men. Because Hijras identify with the Hindu Goddess, they are revered as a sacred figure, but at the same time, they are marginalized in society. They live according to an established code of conduct in communities known as “gharanas” (Patel, 2010). Because of their alternative identities, they challenge traditional religious and cultural norms, and people’s reactions to them range from awe to fear and discrimination. Because “Hijras often face extreme discrimination in employment, housing, health, and education” (Guest, 2014), they are limited to sex work, begging, street performances, and ritual performances at birthdays and weddings. They entertain their guests by dancing and bestowing their blessing upon the families. They have also appeared on public service announcements in India, promoting seat belt safety (McCarthy, 2014).
Hijras have been basically rendered invisible, and “Despite social acceptance, hijras struggle with legal recognition of their lifestyle and obtaining…

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