One small step, giant leap for third gender

One small step, giant leap for third gender

As a 10-year-old when she started doing tolli-badhai (visiting families with her group of eunuchs), “Bahut umang hoti thi logon ke bachchon ko khilane ki, wahaan naachne ki, mazaa ata tha. Ab toh khair aadat ho gayi hai (I had a desire to play with other people’s babies, dance and have fun when we went about doing our rounds as a group, now it is only a habit),” expresses 38-year-old Soniya Reshma residing in Trilokpuri, Delhi.

At 38, she goes around and celebrates births and nuptials to earn her bread in Noida. Inform her about the Supreme Court judgement about creating a ‘third gender’ status for transgender people, and she seems clueless about the news. But only takes a moment to ask, “Does that mean we will also get a job, without having to wander around day in and day out? I might have wanted to be a doctor if I had an option,” says Reshma in a dreamy manner.

The landmark SC ruling that directs the Centre and the states to include the transgender community in ‘other backward castes’ category, extending reservations for admission in educational institutions and government jobs, is being hailed as a welcome move to socially uplift the community. No longer would they have to mark themselves as male or female on any official document.

Society for Peoples' Awareness, Care & Empowerment (SPACE) that runs a community club ‘Zeenat’ addresses the health, legal and social issues of the transgender community by involving the community in its functioning. The project runs a parlour, gym and other such facilities that are operated by the transgenders themselves.

Anjan Joshi, a representative of SPACE, exclaims, “It had been a long-standing demand of the transgenders, that has finally been recognised by according them a third gender status. While they are happy about the quotas in jobs, separate public
toilets for them, to begin with, there is a section, the hijras who are apprehensive that their century-old culture might vanish over time.”


He explains that ‘transgender’ is an umbrella term, and hijras are a cult, a culture by themselves. Transgenders have to join a hijra dera, a gharaana to become a part
of that culture. He adds, “The apprehension that the hijras may have is that if they get these government provisions, then people will tell them that they have been mainstreamed, thus not let them follow their traditional activities.”

A bright and beaming transgender, Ritika Shergil, 21-year-old BA student of Delhi University who holds Laxmi Narayan Tripathi as her role model, exclaims, “My only worry is would people be comfortable to have us around in their spaces,  their offices. They would have to be sensitised to deal with that situation.

I was in Class VII when I was forced to shift  from a co-ed school in Delhi to a boys’ school. It was a daunting experience that I overcame with time,” says Ritika hoping that a reservation in education system may also bring about a social change in the way people see her community.

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