Monday, December 6, 2010

"India's third gender gets own identity in voter rolls"

This article highlights India's 2009 decision to add an extra gender choice - "O" for "Other" on voter forms. The story seems to refer to Hijras, but does not mention them by name. The author instead refers to them as "eunuchs", and also mentions intersex and transsexual individuals. While the government's acknowledgment of these people is a sign of major headway for India, terms like "third gender" and "other" continue to promote gender binary. The latter implies that male and female are neatly-boxed norms, quite literally "othering" anything else, and packaging it all into one (much too broad) category. "Third gender" has similar implications - that there are only meant to be two genders but special exceptions can be made for another one. In the context of the article, this would also mean that intersex and transgender people and Hijras are all the same gender (the "third" one).
Like I said before, the author seems to be really uneducated about Hijras. Take this quote from the article:
"Intersexual people are seen as a marginalized community in India. Many end up begging on the streets, becoming prostitutes or earning their livelihood by dancing at celebrations."

On another note, India did finally legalize homosexual sex between consenting adults in the summer of 2009. This may or may not lead to the legalization of gay marriage in the country.

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