BY: SAHAR FADAIAN
Cultural taboos, federal regulations, and family rejection have given the Transgender Women of South India little choices for survival. During the years that Sahar Fadaian lived in Bangalore, India she noticed that most “Hijra” have been defamed into the streets as beggars and prostitutes, being outcast to small, damp and dark places located in the slums.
At an early age, most of these young boys run away from the malicious stares of their biological families and run to big cities in hope of finding acceptance. The word “Hijra” is Urdu-Hindustani and has the etymological meaning “leaving ones tribe”. In Bangalore most of them are adopted into a makeshift family and live under the wisdom of the most experienced transgender, whom they refer to as “Guru”. Almost all of the trans women will tattoo the Gurus name as a symbolic scar in their skin. The Hijras born with male physiology usually will undergo an initiation rite into the Hijra community called Narwaan, where penis, testicles, and scrotum are removed.
Since the late 20th century Hijra activists and NGOs have lobbied for official recognition of the Hijra as a kind of third gender. As of April 2014, The Supreme Court recognizes that this “third gender” actually exists in India.