Drawing on the anthropological fieldwork of both authors, this article examines the hijras of India and Bangladesh, emphasizing the changes in their traditional religious and political roles and identities, from ancient times until the present. While the most popular common understanding of the hijras, who are found in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, is that of a third sex or third gender, they are now also characterized as transgender both within South Asia and internationally. Ancient Hindu mythology provides the basic context for the hijra role in South Asia, but Islam is also critical to their social organization, identities, and present culture. Culture contact predating today’s globalization has played an important role in hijra identity, beginning with their role as eunuchs in the Mughul Empire, through British colonialism, anthropological ethnography, and the internet and global social media. Hijra identity has now moved from an exclusive identification with the religious ritual of emasculation, to a global identity merging with LGBT activism. In addition, globally connected NGOS advocating human rights and HIV/AIDS related activism as well as transnational connections between hijras in South Asia and transgender groups in other parts of the world are now also central in hijra lives. In addition, partly through ethnography, gender theory, international tourism, and global media, the previously dominant binary Western sex/gender ideology is changing to a multiple and fluid gender ideology, both internationally and in South Asia. These global connections have resulted in increasing rights for hijras in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, including political, economic, and medical rights, through national legalization of hijras as a third gender.
|Title of host publication||Trans Lives in a Globalizing World|
|Subtitle of host publication||Rights, Identities and Politics|
|Editors||J. Michael Ryan|
|Number of pages||16|
|ISBN (Print)||9780367193324, 9780367193348|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|