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Hijra (India)

In Indian culture, a hijra is person belonging to a group that is often called "the third sex" (or gender) of India. Many hijra desribe themselves as "neither man nor woman" (The term "hijra" in this context is to be distinguished from an Arabic word of the same spelling.)

The group consists of people born with a male body, but with a non-male or female gender identity; people who in the West would be called transgender or transsexual; and also people born with ambiguous genitalia (intersex). By some reports, occasionally there are also people who belong to none of these categories who are forced to become hijras, by performing the crude castration /genital reassignment surgery ritual on them without their consent.

This socially constructed category involves belonging to a special caste and participating in a religious cult with its own mother goddess, Bahuchara Mata . Becoming a hijra involves a process of gradual socialization into that social group, and gradual assumption of a non-male gender identity. The culmination of this process is a religious ritual that includes a crude form of genital reassignment surgery where both the penis and testes are removed.

See also

External links


  1. Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India by Serena Nanda. Wadsworth Publishing, 1998. (ISBN 0-53450-903-7)
  2. Lovemaps, p. 106, by John Money. Irvington Publishers, Inc., 1988. (ISBN 0-87975-456-7)

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45