So I’ve come quite a ways in understanding the culture of the Hijras since beginning this blog. Although at first I couldn’t understand why anyone would leave their families to do something as drastic as changing their gender, I now understand that at times you have to put yourself first and do what pleases you, or in the cases where the Hijras are kicked out, you do what you need to do to live happily without your birth family.
The Hijras are performers, and as someone who has seen multiple plays in which my friends were acting, I have seen how simple it is for people to perform different roles. Even though the Hijras are not performing a fictional role, they are performing ‘gender roles’ which essentially means that they are performing the third gender. In the class for which I am writing this blog, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, we discussed how gender is not a function of sex, instead it is a role that people perform in society. This is why it is possible for multiple genders to exist within one culture. The behaviors or gender roles that the Hijras perform let the society they live in know who they are and what gender they associate themselves with. As I mentioned in earlier entries, the Hijras do not consider themselves to be women when they are becoming a Hijra, and only some of them consider themselves to be women once the operation is complete. Generally they consider themselves Hijras, or the third gender of India.
Although there is still one aspect of Hijra culture, the homosexuality of some of the prostitutes, I understand why the Hijras want to become Hijras and why they are willing to go to such lengths to become who they feel they really are.
1999 The Hijras of India: Neither Man nor Woman. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.