Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hijra (for translations, see [n 1]) is a term used in South Asia to refer to transgender individuals who are born male.[1][2] They are also known as Aravani, Aruvani or Jagappa.[3] It's of note that in many languages of India, especially outside North-West India, the term "hijra" has never been used and instead the original concept has been translated into other terms, such as the term Thirunangai in Tamil or the term chhakka in Kannada. [4] The hijras are officially recognized as third gender by the government,[5][6] being neither completely male nor female. Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian subcontinent from antiquity onwards as suggested by the Kama Sutra period. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival. In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined and organised all-hijra communities, led by a guru.[7][8] These communities have sustained themselves over generations by "adopting" boys who are in abject poverty, rejected by, or flee, their family of origin.[9] Many work as sex workers for survival.[10] The word "hijra" is an Urdu word derived from the Semitic Arabic root hjr in its sense of "leaving one's tribe,"[11] and has been borrowed into Hindi. The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite," where "the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition."[12] However, in general hijras are born male, only a few having been born with intersex variations.[13] Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of the penis, scrotum and testicles.[10] Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have lobbied for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or "third gender," as neither man nor woman.[14] Hijras have successfully gained this recognition in Bangladesh and are eligible for priority in education.[15][16] In India, the Supreme Court in April 2014 recognised hijra and transgender people as a 'third gender' in law.[17][18][19] Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have all legally accepted the existence of a third gender, with India including an option for them on passports and certain official documents.

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