‘Hijra’ is a Derogatory Term for ‘Transgender’ – Rai

‘Hijra’ is a Derogatory Term for ‘Transgender’ – Rai

“For a trans-woman (Transgender), “Hijra” is a very derogatory term to be used, just like as it is wrong to call a gay guy “Hijra”-it is very offensive to call a trans-woman “Hijra”. Gender is not what is between our legs, that’s our physical sex. Gender is something that in our brain, our mind and is hard wired into the sense of being our self.”- says Neysara Rai, a Transgender from Mangaluru.

Mangaluru: During a press meet interacting with the media persons at Mangalore Press Club, two Transgender persons namely Neysara Rai and “Bubbles” (nickname) talked about the launching of their new website ‘www.transgenderindia.com‘, and also about the life and humility faced by them in the society. The website was launched because of the need of the hour – the only role model a young educated trans person sees in the community now is either a person begging on the streets or doing sex work. It is very much important to change that demotivating perception and bring positive role models of the community to the limelight. To educate on various gender identities under the transgender umbrella. It will be an important tool as the first line of action to fight discrimination and increase acceptance within families for transgender people.

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Neysara Rai, aged 33 years now hailing from Mangaluru, after her Bachelor in Engineering tried to get a decent job in a good firm, but due to her personal identity she was denied job wherever she applied – so fed up will this discrimination decided to start her own export of handicrafts business, which she started six years ago, and has been running very smoothly and successfully. Whereas “Bubbles” is in her final MBBS at the prestigious institution run by a minority community. When she had joined the medical college she joined as a ‘Male’ status, but later when she changed to a transgender, her colleagues/college-mates started harassing her, abusing her and what not. Staying in a men’s hostel run by the institution she has been facing lots of harassment, and the institution has done nothing about it. She doesn’t have a separate room, she has to share the room with males.- said Bubbles during the meet.

“I was sexually harassed by the doctors – many doctors went against the medical ethics which they were supposed to follow, and the management has still done nothing about it. Also, when one of my friends wanted to join this medical institution where I am studying, she was denied admission after they found out that she was a transgender – that is total discrimination, which needs to be stopped. We are all humans in the eyes of God, including transgenders. All these years I have been living a horrifying life among my colleagues in the medical institution and at the hostel among men, but I am looking forward to a better day when equal rights are implemented by the government for transgenders” added Bubbles.

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Regarding the launching of India’s first 24X7 website “www.transgenderindia.com”, which provides holistic help and support discussion forum for Intersex and transgender people and their families, Neysara said that the website is an initiative by Young gender activists who are intersexed and transgender themselves, as a non-funded, and a non-NGO based independent plot to ensure a better trans-inclusive tomorrow. “The website will function as a basic resource for understanding trans and intersex issues for the young trans people and their friends and family; Debunk the common myths associated with being trans; Break the shackles of stereotypes, and Create an e-support system. The website will be an online resource for most trans related issues. The website will have real life experiences of other trans-people and their parents who have been through similar life experiences. The website will also host a Help and support discussion forum for trans-people and their family”, added Neysara.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean about herself, Neysara Rai said, “At age 15 I lost my mother, so it was only my dad and my sisters and their husbands that I had to convince for my transition. The story of my gender Dysphoria was a lot different from the most other people. I had gone through a severe child molestation by a gang of my maternal uncles from the age of 4 to 14 until I had the muscle strength to fight back and stop them. Everyone has their first memory of their life and the first thing we remember soon after our conscious memory evolved. In my case, the first memory of my life was giving oral sex to a relative who was 15 yrs older to me, in barter to a plastic toy in his hand that was making red light and music. I feel those ten years of my life affected my child psychology a lot. This fiddled with my psycho-sexual development as a child. From a very early age, I was a lonely child. I was too scared to play with my male cousins or classmates”.

“When I reached out to my family about my gender identity, I told them my child abuse history could be the reason that I feel this way. This came as a shocker to them, both my gender identity and my child abuse history. I feel sorry for my dad that he felt a deep sense of failure and shame that he failed his duty to protect his baby ‘boy’. It seemed like he never thought of that young boys too can be sexually molested. I saw him cry with me and apologise to me repeatedly for having failed to protect me. My sisters asked me why didn’t I tell them earlier. Honestly speaking even I feel bad for keeping numb on this issue. Maybe because like any other Indian family, my family too never spoke about sex to children. After the initial SHOCK, my family wanted to try if this was something correctable, They took me to spiritual Babajis, doctors, psychiatrists etc for my corrections. My sisters and their husbands thought that I was wanting to be a ‘Hijra’. A year later, finally my dad was okay with my transition and I transitioned.” added Neysara.

Narrating about her challenges faced after becoming a transgender, Rai said, “Most people who are transsexuals , live in what we call it as stealth mode. No one realises that the person is trans until the trans person themselves spills the beans. So it is not a difficult task to merge in the society. But when a trans person comes out to someone, the immediate reaction they get is “So are you a Hijra ?” For a trans women, “Hijra” is a very derogatory term to be used , just like as it is wrong to call a gay guy ‘Hijra’, and it is very offensive to call a trans-woman a ‘Hijra’. We should know that many transsexual women are highly educated, and wish to pursue their career, but they will have a tough time to get their certificates changed to the new name and new gender identity. Workplace/ school discrimination and stigma for people who are openly transsexual or in the process of transition is unparallel”.

Rai further said, “Due to the stigma associated with being trans, most of the trans people are afraid to even contact a medical professional for help. As a final resort, most people resort to self-medication when it comes to hormone replacement therapy. No one of my social contacts knew about me being transsexual until last year. But I am in the process of coming out to my current social contacts, I hope to be out and open someday soon, but I realise it should be a gradual process or else it may disrupt the world that I have built around me since last ten years”.

When asked what made Neysara launch the website, she said, ” Since a couple of years, I have been connecting to the trans community in India. Gopi Shankar from Shristi – Madurai asked me to mentor a few young trans youth to give them a positive perspective on life, encourage them to excel in their education and career in spite of their gender Dysphoria. And give them new perspectives of life other than joining the Hijra community. Hence I connected to a network or trans women and men. With time we realised that same questions were being asked again by the new members who came in, and the process would repeat again and again. Hence we wanted to make an online resource centre where we could have all the general information a transgender person would want to know.”

Talking more about Hijra community, Neysara said, “On the other hand transgender community is one of the most misrepresented communities in our country. The so-called transgender activists and representative we have in our country now, all of them are Hijra Representatives. They do a lot of good work but only to help the Hijra people. Even though some of them have got honorary doctorates, the reality is that they have not even passed 10th standard, hence do not understand the concept of gender diversity beyond the problems faced by the Hijra community. Hijra community is just a small sect of the transgender umbrella. Under the transgender umbrella , there are many gender minorities like Gender-queer, transsexuals, Trans-men, gender fluid etc. The current Hijra activists have failed to help the Transgender umbrella meaningfully. Instead because of the organised sex trade and begging that is done by the visible Hijra community young trans kids are afraid of coming out as Trans because they will be immediately misjudged by the society to be Hijra”.

Clarifying more on Gender term, Neysara Rai said, ” Gender is not what is between our legs, that’s our physical sex. It is something that is in our mind and hard wired into the sense of being ourselves. Gender identity is more of a psycho-sociological identity of an individual. Gender identity is one’s experience of being himself/ herself. It is how you cognize yourself as and want the society to recognise and accept you as. It is the character or personality which the person wants to present to the society he/she lives in. The individual wants to build his/her social affiliations based on it. Gender Identity is a variance of innate human behaviour that influences and conditions his/ her social interactions”.

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“To simplify this let us take an example of another human trait that has few variations in the human population. Most people in this world have a dominant hand. For a majority of the population, it is their right hand. while a certain percentage of the population feel their left hand is naturally dominant. For another group of people, their left hand is more dominant for everything except writing. and for yet another group of people both their hands are equally capable of doing everything, hence no hand is dominant over the other. A lot of research is going on this subject by some of the world’s renowned scientists. Though there is basic idea of the entire variance phenomenon, adequate research is still required to understand the complete brain mechanism that does this. Till then, the Human hand dominance is a variance of innate human behaviour”.

While concluding, Neysara Rai said, “More recent studies and theories suggest that the social environment plays a very little role in gender development of an infant. Much of our gender identity is intrinsic. As the society or as a parent, it is essential for us to realise that Gender Identity is not a choice. it never was and never will be. None of us can imagine being the other gender than what we recognise with. To sum up, I would remind us all of a fact which we all know yet we forget– “Gender is not what is between our legs, that’s our physical sex. Gender is something that in our brain, our mind and is hard wired into the sense of being our self.”

For details on Transgender, log on to their website: www.transgenderindia.com or call their hotline number: +91 7338321413

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