Transgender awareness month—November.

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transgenderMy small contribution towards helping transgender gain their acceptance and dignity.

Transgender relates to a person whose self identity does not conform unambiguously to the conventional notions of male or female gender.

They are referred to as Hijra is an accepted term in most Indian languages. However chakka Kannada, and Bambaiya, khusra in Punjabi, kojja in telgu, and ombodhu in Tamil are also other terms used. This brings us to the common misconception that Hijra are only men with feminine gender identity. It is only that they are more visible.

Khwaaja sira in Urdu identifies an individual as transsexual, khusras are transgender, and zenanas are cross dressers or nambans who are eunuch. In the Indian context there are references to them even in the Kama sutra. Along south Asia there are well defined Hijra communities who adopt young boys who are rejected by their families.

The sangama literature uses the word Pedi to refer to the Hijra. The aravan culture in Koovagam  village where the transwomen enact the legend in an annual three day festival, the transwomen here adapt as far as possible to appearing female. West Bengal has sakibeki cult where the transwomen, retain their masculine features and sing the praise of Lord Krishna. The Bahuchari cult of Gujrat, the Jogappa cult of Karnataka are all rooted in the transgender cult and they have their typical traditional communication methods.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1million transgenders in India.Since  late 20th century there has been lobbying for the official recognition of Hijra’s as third gender. They have achieved this in Bangladesh and they also have priority in education. In India, the Supreme Court has recognized the Hijra as the third gender in April 2014.

There is a difference in being transgender and transsexual.

Transgender Transsexual.
Definition An umbrella term that refers to those with identities that cross over, move between, or otherwise challenge the socially constructed border between the genders. While this can include medical or social transition, it may not. A term referring to a person who does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and wishes, whether successful or not, to realign their gender and their sex through use of medical intervention.
Surgery Usually not performed. Often, if available to the person, however it completely depends on the person.
Medical implication While no consistent diagnosis is given to transgender people, some may qualify for a diagnosis under Gender Dysphoria or Intersex conditions. DSM-V labels transsexual people Gender Dysphoric, a label contested by many trans people who say the problem is physical, not mental. Typically medical and/or surgical intervention to align one’s sex and gender aids in feeling of dysphoria
Psychological conditions Due to the societal pressure to conform, some transgender people can experience depression, anxiety, panic, substance abuse issues, and/or suicidal ideations. Due to the societal pressure to conform, some transsexual people can experience depression, anxiety, panic, substance abuse issues, suicidal ideations and/or social isolation.
Sexual orientation. Typically not relevant. Therefore transgender people can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, etc. Typically not relevant. Therefore transsexual people can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, etc.

The basic issue transgender face is the dysphoria between the gender presentation and gender identity, which is how one feels and how one present to the world. This particularly becomes difficult when there is a cultural norm of behaviour. Say a male child is more comfortable playing with dolls, he is told not to be a sissy, and then somewhere he learns to hide this part of him from the world.  At puberty, children have known to have shocks, and self disgust when there is biologic manifestation of the opposite sex.unwanted gender.

Isolation is an overwhelming condition, leading to depression and anxiety. The transgender adults tend to exhibit suicidal thoughts.  Though less now presenting gender non-conformation elicits harsh responses from the society.

When it comes to dealing about making transitions then fears of acceptance, insecurity in total transition everything becomes stressful.

Major fears for transgender individuals when it comes to considering transition i.e. to present and live in the other sex outwardly some points that may come up are—

  1. Fears about finding a partner
  2. Impact on family relationship- with parents, children, partners and other relatives
  3. Fears about violence and prejudice when one is perceived as transgendered.
  4. Actual fear of surgical procedure.
  5. Change of documents and legalities of it like drivers license etc.

Then there are some issues that could arise post transition

  1. Disappoint on lack of resolution of problems.
  2. Level of satisfaction with appearance
  3. Level of satisfaction of surgeries
  4. Emotional issues that could arise after surgery.

India’s Supreme Court has recognized transgender people as third gender in a landmark ruling in April 2014. The government has been ordered to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities along with key amenities.  This move of inclusion could bring about social and economic improvement in the transgender.

But more relevant would be the society coming out of its typecasting of gender framework and expectations.

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