Living in a society where you are tormented, bullied, and harassed can’t be much fun, yet the half a million Hijras in India choose this lifestyle. Why would someone choose this? It can’t be fun, having to beg for money, or being a prostitute. But the thing is, they don’t have a choice. Since their government won’t accept them as a gender, meaning that up until recently they had a hard time acquiring passports, there isn’t much choice. As I read more about the Hijra culture, I am beginning to be able to understand them better. Every culture has people who are forced to do whatever it takes to put food on the table for their loved ones. For the Hijras, they have to turn to prostitution, begging, and the tax collecting mentioned in a previous blog. Being the average white American female (physically and mentally), I can’t imagine feeling like I need to change my sex in order to be my true self.
For the Hijras, although it is a difficult choice, and a life that they would normally not choose, it is the correct choice, because it is who they really are. It is not a good life, as many have said in the readings I have done, but it is a true life. For many transsexual people in the United States, an operation is not done, or just not considered. For Hijras, an operation is the final step in their transformation, although there are many today who are either hermaphrodites, have genital disfiguration, or just choose not to have an operation, however the majority have some sort of operation done. The operation the Hijras receive, as mentioned in the previous blog, is considerably different from the customary American one. This makes the Hijras even more frightening for some people, because they don’t quite have proper looking female genitalia, yet they look and act like females, and they are mentally female. Choosing this life and surgery is one of the most un-understandable things for me.
2002 Eunuchs-India's Third Gender. Electronic Document, http://thingsasian.com/stories-photos/2022, accessed October 22, 2008.
2008 “Please Write ‘E’ in this Box” Toward Self-Identification and Recognition of a Third Gender: Approaches in the United States and India. Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 14(2):223-258.
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC-k27Kvtrw