The Stream

India’s ‘third gender’: A marginalised social class

Hijras fight for recognition in society.

A census official collects information from eunuchs during the second phase of the census in Bhopal, India, 09 February 2011. (EPA/SANJEEV GUPTA) 

Transgender – how did this community go from revered to living on the fringes of society? That is the plight of India’s estimated 5 million “hijras.”The term applies to a diverse group who identify as neither male nor female. They can range from natural intersex to male cross dresser. Respected by the Mughals, but considered criminals by British colonisers, today many live as sex workers and beggars. We speak to hijra and transgender activists who say not enough is being done to make them fully accepted members of Indian society again. Join us at 19:30 GMT.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Rose Venkatesan @rosevenkatesan
Transsexual TV anchor
Simran Shaikh @AllianceinIndia
Programme officer, India HIV/AIDS Alliance
Aniruddha Dutta
Assistant professor, University of Iowa
Svati Shah @svashah
Assistant professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
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