Eunuchs, also known as transgender people or Hijras, are castrated males who are not accepted as either men or women in India. As a whole, they constitute one of the most neglected and unfairly discriminated strata in Indian society. Hindu eunuchs and hijras perform dances, songs, and blessings during births and weddings as part of their holy religious obligation. Many Hindus believe that eunuchs possess incredible divine power.
On the other hand, Hindus are equally concerned about being cursed by the hijras. Both respect and fear have been experienced by Hijras. Most of these people live on the periphery of society and are rejected due to their gender identity, according to activists. For a living, most of them rely on begging, prostitution, singing, and dancing.
Human rights organizations report that they often face severe discrimination in public settings and must identify as either male or female. A majority of the eunuch group lives in the western and northern states of India, while a smaller number lives in the southern states. In some states, such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Odisha, transgender people are accepted as the third gender.
India’s Transgender Community Faces Hardships
Transgender people come from all races, nationalities, religions, and social classes today, yet, due to “what they are” and “how they are,” they have never led respectable lives. Since sexual dimorphism has been rigidly enforced throughout recorded history, they have been subjected to misunderstandings and agony.
Since Eunuchs are despised in Indian society, they are not allowed to work or attend school. Consequently, they often have to rely on begging and prostitution to survive. Besides being mistreated by law enforcement, denied medical care, and insulted and verbally harassed, they are also victims of violence. Politics, decision-making, social, and cultural activities are not allowed for Eunuchs.
Due to this, they have been subjected to constant verbal and psychological harassment. In order to avoid social rejection, their lives have always been conditioned to refrain from using worldly colours. By society’s standards, they are outlandish individuals who don’t conform to the societal norms.
Eunuchs’ Legal Rights and Recognition
In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognized eunuchs and hijras as citizens deserving of the same rights as everyone else and outlawed bigotry against them.
According to the Supreme Court of India, every human being has the right to determine their gender and that group identification is not a medical or social issue, but a human rights issue. According to the Supreme Court, transgender people have the same rights as third-gender people under the Indian Constitution, which states that they have fundamental rights. Everyone must be treated with justice and decency without discrimination based on sexual identity.
The Indian Constitution grants the following rights and freedoms:
The 14th article –
India’s State shall not deny anyone the right to equal protection under the law or equality before the law within its boundaries. In terms of employment, healthcare, education, and civil rights, they are on an equal footing. In Article 14, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited.
The 15th article –
Any citizen cannot be discriminated against based on their religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth by the State. Therefore, discrimination against any individual will result in punishment. The third gender is not discriminated against, and public restrooms and entertainment venues are accessible to them.
The Article 16 –
Public employment is equal opportunity. Compared with their gender-identical counterparts, transgender people have fewer professional opportunities. Third-gendered people are also capable of learning and earning. According to Article 16, they have the right to find employment and support themselves.
The article-19 –
The right to speak freely, form associations and unions, and congregate in peace without force is protected. Article 19 is the most significant privilege granted to any Indian citizen. The third gender is generally silenced, and those who do so often face harassment and even rape.
The article 21 –
There is a right to respect and dignity in society for people who identify as third gender. The right to dignity also includes the right to live a dignified life. Male or female, transgender people’s lives are just as valuable. The right to personal freedom, privacy, and opinion should be respected by everyone.
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Act protecting transgender people’s rights, 2019
Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019. As a result of the law, the following goals are achieved:
- To empower transgender people socially, physically, and educationally by promoting their rights.
- Transgenders are defined.
- Rights of residence.
- A certificate of identification.
- Discrimination is prohibited.
- Offenses and penalties are in place to protect transgender people from abuse and forced labor.
- Care for your health.
- Welfare programs provide rehabilitation facilities, vocational training, and opportunities for them to participate in cultural events.
- Transgender complaints and laws and regulations are addressed by the National Council for Transgenders (NCT).
A passport can be obtained by anyone, regardless of gender or sex, according to the Indian Passport Authority in 1994. In place of either “M” or “F” on passport applications, Eunuchs could select “E.”
On November 12, 2009, the Election Commission of India declared a separate identity for eunuchs and transgender people. As opposed to pretending to be male or female, they can identify as “Others” in election roles. In 2011, the government began counting the third gender in censuses. A checkbox is also available for the third gender on the census form.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has added transgender as a third option on ticket reservation and cancellation forms, in order to address the widespread discrimination against the transgender community.
The adoption of the third gender law for transgender persons was a major turning point for humanity, teaching us to embrace and value everyone as they are. In Indian society, eunuchs are wonderful creations of God. Changing into a new version of yourself takes courage.
It is important to support transgender Indians in their fight for identity, equality, and respect. To do this, it is important to increase awareness of them and the challenges they face. All of us must work together for a world that is more equitable, just, and respectful of everyone. In order to solve the problem, it is necessary to change society’s mentality. With love and support, they can achieve miracles.
An equal life for everyone is a positive outcome of the third gender law. In order to influence society’s perception of them.