Hijra rights

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The lovely and tough hijras of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are often simplemindedly called eunuchs. They range from transvestites to transsexuals. Hijra means 'impotent one,' not that the lack of desire for a traditional male orgasm should be regarded as impotence.

Often their transgendered status gives them reputations as fortune tellers, workers of magic. America's transgendered population may have a culture of sorts. Often that means you bury yourself in the back of the closet or live your life in bars, some only to pay for sex reassignment surgery. Thankfully money or laws enable some American transsexuals to at least try to live the life they aim for. Hijras have a much older culture and I think more bonding.

Hijras often become sex workers. Outcasts have few options. A lucky few find a man to love them.

"Our plan is to make this festival a platform for all sexual minorities, including gays and lesbians," said Famila of Vividha (Different), an autonomous organisation set up to fight for hijra rights. ...

"We fell in love," she says. She met her much younger salesman husband, Vishwanath Babu, in Bombay.

Hijras as a norm don't marry. Even if they do, it is not legally recognised.

"We can't have a registered marriage. Nobody recognises us because we are hijras," says Priya.

Babu, who is also at the festival, says he has no regrets about marrying Priya.

"Of course, my family and friends were against it. But I really love her."

India's eunuchs demand rights

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