Table of Contents
Historical Perspective of Transgender
Present Scenario of Transgenders: An Over View (Indian Context)
Review of Literature
Issues and Challenges of Transgenders
Transgender in Kashmir
Conclusion and Suggestions
Transgender: A Marginalized and Stigmatized Community .
Research Scholar, at Department of Sociology,
University of Kashmir.
Down the ages, our society has condemned and alienated people who do not conform to its norms. Transgender persons are one such group of people who have been marginalized, abused, disdained and callously neglected community in almost every known society. The term ―transgender is generally used to describe those who transgress social gender norms. Transgender is often used as an umbrella term to signify individuals who defy rigid, binary gender constructions and who expresses or present a breaking and blurring of culturally prevalent stereotypically gender roles. It includes pre-operative, post-operative and non- operative transsexual people who strongly identify with gender opposite to their biological sex (UNDP India Report, 2010). Transgender are known locally ‘laanch’ in Kashmir. They face discrimination in every aspect of life be it employment, legal recognition, access to social resources including decent life standard and education. As in other parts of the country, the third gender in Kashmir exists, but their existence is hardly recognized by the society and they are pushed to the boundaries. Though the J&K government has set up a committee to monitor and examine the formulation of various welfare policies on transgenders , a lot needs to be done. This study intended to expose sufferings, discrimination and marginalization of transgender; these persons are usually rejected from their families and other social organizations and face varied forms of social exclusion. The article is mostly based on secondary sources, as well as on observations.
Keywords: Gender Identity, Marginalized, Social Exclusion, Abuse, Alienation.
Gender is the fundamental aspect of human identity. It is deeply rooted element of ‘how we see ourselves and how others see us’. Transgender is a term used to describe whose identity or appearance differs from stereotypical expectations of how men and women should look or act. It also includes a much larger group of people who don’t necessarily undergo medical treatment, but who don’t conform to the idea men have to be stereotypically “masculine” and women have to be stereotypically “feminine”. In other words, a transgender is a person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from that associated with his or her birth sex. Most parents feel confused, angry, self-doubting, and deeply worried when they learn about their child’s cross-dressing or gender identity issues. These feelings are frequently exacerbated by the parents’ belief that there is no place to turn for help. So transgender people face grave misunderstanding, prejudice and social injustice on a daily basis on their gender role. The transgender are not recognized as a distinct and equal subset of humanity and hence they face a lot of human rights issues also. At family level as well as society level the practice of discrimination has been taking place, the majority of the parents are not willing to reveal about their transgender kids in the public, not only the parents but also siblings, and relatives. Many transgender youth leave their home because of the stress in the family environment or because they are thrown out by homophobic parents. Many foster homes will not accept openly transgender youth because of homophobia and fear of predation on other children in the home. The transgender people they themselves didn’t disclose their inner personality. Over the law also, recognize only heterosexual marriages, the right to marriage and family is denied to same sex couples and transgender. These misconceptions or misunderstanding, prejudice and social on their gender role should not accept them to continue or maintain a normal and healthy relationship with the family as well as society.
According to Schneider (1997), gay youth are two to three times more likely than their heterosexual classmates to attempt suicide, be kicked out of home or run away, drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol. These students are affecting bullying, molestation, sexual abuse, ragging etc in the study environment and from society. Marginalization and discrimination refers to the overt or covert trends within societies to avoid the minority group from the mainstream society. They are thrown out of the margins of society. At the time when young people develop their identity and learn to express themselves socially, discrimination and marginalization can damage their self-esteem and confidence. The discrimination leads to bullying, exclusion and stigmatization and has a negative impact on LGBT’s mental health that it increases the risk of inferiority complex, depression, self-harm and suicide. Bullying can socially exclude young people, and leave them in fear of being hurt or ridiculed. Anxiety related to fear of discrimination or bullying can also lead young people to hide their true self and to considering the ‘coming out’ process as a luxury with potentially dangerous consequences.
The problems and issues pertaining to transgenders vary from culture to culture, environment to environment and country to country. As in other parts of the country, the third gender in Kashmir exists, but their existence is hardly recognized by the society and they are pushed to the boundaries. Moreover, various welfare programs have been devised and implemented for the uplift of the socially and economically excluded, deprived and marginalized sections of society. These measures have not dispersed significant reimbursement for the transgenders due to lack of political will, social activism, community participation, media intervention and research support. There has been little research aimed at understanding the difficulties faced by these people, who are very much a part of the society that still does not consider them normal human beings to be at par with other members of society.
Historical Perspective of Transgender
Transgender persons have been recognized in many cultures and societies from ancient times until the present day. However, the meaning of gender variance may vary from culture to culture. Every society comprises individuals who do not fit into the culture’s dominant sex/gender categories - persons born intersexed (hermaphrodites), those who exhibit behavior or desires deemed appropriate for the "opposite" sex/gender, or those who, while conforming outwardly to culturally normative gender roles, experience themselves in conflict with these roles in some fundamental ways. Historically, transgender communities have attempted to appropriate rituals, folklore and legends in order to obtain a sense of self-validation and carve out a niche for themselves in the traditional social structures. In various cultures, transgenders were seen as having special powers due to their assumed ‘third sex’ dimension, and were allowed to take part in semi-religious ceremonies. Often they were tolerated and allowed to live in the role of the other sex, to pursue their occupations (including that of sex work), cross-dress, and display other forms of transgender behaviuor. Nevertheless they were often community practices, and even traded as slaves. Beginning of time and the existence of mankind, transgender have been very much a part of the society. It is just that they have been given a name and a status in the society in recent times. They have more than 4,000 years of history. India has a history of people with a wide range of transgender related identities, cultures, and experiences. In Mughal period the transgender were in high position and they were political advisor and administered in empire. In British era the transgender were benefited by the provision of land and rights of food. After the periods, they were facing so many inequalities, marginalization. In contemporary period the government of India implemented new policy and schemes for the social protection and welfare schemes of transgender community. In India, transgender people include hijras/ kinnars (eunuchs), shiv-shaktis, jogappas, Sakhi, jogtas, Aradhis etc. In fact, there are many who do not belong to any of the groups but are transgender persons individually. Transgender fall under the LGBT group (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) they constitute the marginalized section of the society in India, and thus face legal, social as well as economic difficulties.
Over the last few years, there have been important developments for eliminating the historic discrimination and exclusion of transgender persons; and for ensuring that they are accepted in society and given equal opportunities and access to resources. In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India gave a major boost to transgender rights India in by its decision in the case of National Legal Services Authority Union of India. It recognized the right of transgender persons to adopt their self-identified gender as male, female or ‘third gender.’ The case spurred many executive actions and policy changes to further the rights of transgender persons.
Present Scenario of Transgenders: An Over View (Indian Context)
The number of transgenders identified by the census is almost 55, 000 are in the age group of 0-6 population (Census, 2011). This has come as a big surprise to the community as they did not expect so many parents to identify their children as belonging to the third gender. During the voter registration process only 28, 341 people registered as belonging to the third gender, said Kalki Subramaniam, transgender rights activist and founder of the Sahodari Foundation. Anjali Gopalan of Naz Foundation said that even the current figure of 4. 9 lakh was on the lower side as it was unlikely that the number of people declaring themselves as transgender would ever give an accurate figure. (Times of India May 30, 2014). In India over 66% of the population identified as Transgender lived in rural areas, very close to the 69% of the overall population that lives in villages. The census data also revealed the low literacy level in the community, just 46%, compared to 74% literacy in the general population. The highest proportion of the Transgender population, about 28%, was identified in Uttar Pradesh followed by 9% in Andhra Pradesh, 8% each in Maharashtra and Bihar, over 6% in both Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal and well over 4% in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha. Rajasthan accounted for over 3% of the total transgender population and Punjab for 2%. The proportion of those working in the transgender community is also low (38%) compared to 46% in the general population. Only 65% of the total working population is main workers — those who find work for more than six months in the year compared to 75% in the general population. And in Jammu and Kashmir Transgender population is 4137 (Census, 2011).
The Indian Government took bold steps to recognize transgender as a separate gender for the first time in the country and named it as Third Gender. Finally it is recognized the rights of transgender people and treating them as equal to other Indians. While this has helped in terms of their identity, Indian authorities now need to implement court directives aimed at mainstreaming the transgender community, ending discrimination against them, and addressing their social protection needs which have long been denied basic rights, including the right to vote, own property, and claim a formal identity through a passport or other government identification. They have also been unable to secure government services such as food subsidies, education, employment, and health. Often, it leaves them with no option but to depend on others for their livelihood or engage in sex work, exposing them to further violence at the hands of law enforcement authorities.
Review of Literature
UNDP (2010) studied the problems of transgender women communities in India and stated that transgender people faced various forms of oppression and health related hazards like Sexual health, Mental health etc. The report suggested that adoption of social exclusion framework would find solutions to multiple forms of oppression faced by the Hijras. Adapting the Social Exclusion Framework to Hijras/TG women, one can understand how TG communities have been excluded from effectively participating in social and cultural life; economy; and politics and decision-making processes.
Saxena (2011) has investigated the various aspects of eunuchs raging from social, political, religious, physiological and psychological to the death of eunuch. The study also explored the history of gender misfits, outlines the issues facing them in various countries and cultures, in an effort to gain a better understanding of the often insurmountable problems faced by such people. A turning point in eunuch’s life comes around the time of puberty, i.e. between 8 – 14 years of age, when this child suffers from mal-functional hormonal development and consequently, cannot grow up to be either male or female, both mentally and physically. For most of them, the combined stress of abnormal physical and sexual development is so great that they run away from home, in an attempt to hide their disapproved behavior and in a quest to discover the answer for themselves. It is then that they are often pushed into the murky corridors of a parallel existence, where the members of the community lead a shadowy way of life. Years of enforced guilt and isolation has taught eunuchs to remain hidden, hoping that one does not discover their ‘secret’. Little is known about them, even lesser about their community, adopted families, lifestyles and rituals or even their death. Even though, they are acknowledged in Hindu, Muslim as well as other ancient cultures and have existed in most of South Asia with their own local identities, customs and rituals. They dress as women; they live and function as women; most of them consider themselves women but are male in the eyes of the law. The indifference and discrimination of the general public, as well as their so called ‘democratically elected’ governments has reduced them to a life of penury, scratching out an existence by begging, prostitution or even crime on occasion. Author noted we accept and sympathize with the deaf, dumb, blind and lame but not with the gender deprived, who do not even have a family, which is the unit of love, care and affection and is most needed for human life.
Bund (2013) has explored the problems of transgender women of district Srinagar (J&K), it is due to the discrimination they face at every stage of life, that they don’t have the confidence to take part in the social and political decision making vis-à-vis suggested some recommendations to address these problems. The scholar explored transgender women face harassment from various sections of society ranging from parents, teachers, peers, to society furthermore it includes each sphere of their lives. The non conformity, to their prescribed gender roles makes them vulnerable and often leads to verbal and corporeal abuse within and outside the family including their parents, siblings, schools and other educational institutions which almost certainly force them to leave studies in order to avoid the mocking and harassment which leads to the mental trauma. The nature of the harassment includes verbal, physical and sexual abuse which has serious impact on the mental health as well. The mental health issues include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Major Depressive Episode (MDE), suicidal tendencies and Panic Disorders. Keeping in view the above issues and concerns the scholar noted it is need of the hour to intervene at individual, community and policy level to safeguard the rights of transgender.
Ganesan, Elangovan and Murugaiyan (2013) socially-excluded people or groups of people are not able to participate in societal mainstream activities. Factors contributing to social exclusion include poverty, non-dominant social identities, e.g. race, ethnicity, religion, and gender; social locations (migrants, refugees); demographic features (occupation, educational level); and health conditions, e.g. disability, stigmatized diseases, such as HIV and AIDS. A social, economic, cultural and political aspect of exclusion enforces deprivations of the basic amenities of life. Transgender is one such group that is socially excluded for no fault of theirs. Transgendering is a biological fact to the lives of these individuals, the control of which is beyond their humanness. They are stigmatized and discriminated right from the family to larger society. They are been thrown out of the family and ridiculed, abused, harassed at the hands of other members of general society. They are being humiliated in schools and colleges. But we should keep it in mind even though they are small in number they can do equally better like their fellow normal human beings. There is wide spread misconception that transgender are untouchables, insufficient and unfit but in reality they can do any job well, ignoring their manpower is a national loss.
Nallasekaran (2013) assesses the struggle of transgenders for acceptance in general society. Individuals transform into transgender because of faulty pairing of chromosome in the body that determines the sex of the individual. So being a transgender is not an individual’s fault. They are being denied in every aspect of life be it family, education, politics, health, work, human rights etc. They are thrown out to the margins of society. The problem of acceptance has to been addressed from the micro level, starting from the family first in order to be accepted by the society at large. Besides mass level awareness, reservation in education and employment, representation in Parliament, inclusion in academic curriculum are the need of the hour for inclusive growth of transgender community.
Atheeque and Nishanthi (2016 ) highlighted innumerable issues are associated with the gender identity of transgender community such as discrimination, persistence of stigma, lack of educational facilities, unemployment, lack of shelter, lack of medical facilities like HIV care and hygiene, depression, hormone pill abuse, tobacco and alcohol abuse and problems relating to marriage, property, electoral rights, adoption, alienation from family and society, insecure life, forced sex work and begging. Social stigma includes being disempowered due to the labeling and negative generalized attitude towards such members who are forced to work as sex workers or sex solicitors. They have also been unable to secure government services such as food subsidies, education, employment, and health.
The present study is predominantly based on secondary sources, as well as observation. Data was obtained from Books, Journals, Research Papers, websites and other relevant unpublished archival material available on this subject.
Objectives of study;
- To assess various problems of transgender persons.
- To examine the causes of stigmatization and social exclusion of tranegenders.
- To recommend suggestions for the welfare of transgenders.
Issues and Challenges of Transgenders
Transgenders are marginalized and stigmatized community all over the world. They claim that mainstream society does not understand their culture, gender, and sexuality . Violations of their human and sexual rights have been overlooked in the traditional dogma. And unchecked negative attitudes toward transgender persons may result in transphobia as well as discriminatory treatment of transgender individuals. In our country there is a bias against transgenders and a fair amount of ignorance. The common man in India is exposed more to transgenders. There is a lot of prejudice against transgenders in our society and they face a huge amount of discrimination and are often forced to beg. These people have been part of the broader culture and treated with great respect, at least in the past, although an estimated 10 lakhs population in India has been more often socially ostracized. The Issues, faced by Transgenders are discrimination, lack of educational facilities, unemployment, lack of shelter, lack of medical facilities like HIV care and hygiene, depression, hormone pill abuse, tobacco and alcohol abuse and problems relating to marriage, property, electoral rights, adoption.
Social Problems: family members often do not support their presence. A variety of problems that include verbal and physical abuse, isolation and rejection, denial of family property are faced by such people in family. Society often stigmatizes and discriminate them based on their sexuality or gender disorder. Social stigma includes being looked down upon, labeling and negative attitude towards such as sex work or sex solicitors. The other fields where this community feels neglected are inheritance of property or adoption of a child. They are often pushed to the periphery as a social out caste and many may land up begging and dance. They even engage themselves as sex workers for survival.
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- The University of Kashmir – Department of Sociology
- marginalized stigmatized community Social Exclusion Alienation laanch Gender Identity