Every Hijra is a Transgender. But, Every Transgender is Not a Hijra.
How many people know that being a Hijra is a profession like being an engineer or a lawyer, while being a transgender is just one’s gender identity?
A Hijra is a transgender who earns her livelihood by going out asking for money from people in trains, at traffic snarls, at wedding ceremonies et cetera. Thus, as aforementioned, every Hijra is a transgender. But, every transgender is not a Hijra.
Hijras live together in what they call “Dera” whereby one of them (the eldest of all) is called the Guru and everyone else works under her. The members of these Deras go out to collect money from different areas, brings back the collection and submit it to the Guru. Using this money, the Guru then runs the Dera, provides for everyone’s subsistence and supports everyone in times of difficulties like when one of the members might need some medical assistance et cetera.
Unlike the Hijras, other transgenders don’t live together in Deras. Instead they are scattered amongst us all, living a life silently without garnering much public attention. But be it the Hijras or the other Transgenders, they don’t usually get an easy life.
Doctors deny them treatment in their hospitals and clinics. Restaurants deny them entry in their premises. No one rents them their houses. And, schools and colleges don’t take them in. All of this feels hypocritical to me as everyone feels comfortable in taking their good wishes, but not in treating them just like any other human being.
There is a lot that we common folks don’t know about the tough life that this neglected and uncared for section of our society deals with every day. And, that’s because we hardly ever interact with them. As soon as we see them, we think, “Ah! Now she won’t budge unless I give her some money.”
I mean, that’s how generations after generations of us men and women have been brought up. We don’t see them as just other gender of humanity but as Hijras. That’s their existence in our eyes. Hardly a few of us ever offer them water in the summers. Hardly any of us offer them food when we organize Langars and Bhandaras. And, I can go on this way.
I have been breathing on this world for 23 years now. Yet I knew nothing about them until 25th of August 2018. That day I had the honour to meet with Joyita Mondol , who is India’s first ever Transgender Judge. She was here to give a TEDx talk at my college, which I was hosting. And, in the night, when many of us from the Organizing Team had gathered with the speakers for some light banter and chatter, it was then that Joyita Ji shared with us all those insights that I have shared above.
There were so many moments when I felt like, “Damn it! I never knew this!!”
It was only in 2014 that the Honourable Supreme Court of India identified Transgenders as a Third Gender. Now, they too are ideally entitled to every facility that a man or woman receives in India. But, they still aren’t getting the equal platform in almost all facets of life. Thus, their struggle is far from over.
But, to see souls like Joyita Ji, clinching what place in the society was always rightfully her’s, I feel sanguine that sooner than later, we are going to witness a great revolution in India.
I am using the word revolution here because we have millions of Transgenders on our soil, who once given access to equal opportunities, education, healthcare and an equal representation in the Government & administration, it would mark the unlocking of a great force which would add to our nation’s growth just the way our women have since the Independence.
Thus, I see an India in making where,
“Do nahi, Teen lingg milkar Bharatvarsh ka sunehra bhavishya rachenge.”
I see an India in making where “Not two, but three genders will be scripting the golden future that awaits present day India.”