Of Hijras, Cross-dressing and gender bending

Third gender recognition in Germany and Bangladesh…

Hijras now a separate gender

by Mohosinul Karim

They will be referred to as Hijras in both English and Bangla

Hijras, who are neither male nor female, from now on will be considered as a separate gender in Bangladesh and will get priority for education and other rights.

The decision was made at a Monday cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan briefed the media after the meeting.

Journalists asked Musharraf whether the spelling of Hijra would be spelled with a “z or a j.”

“With a j. They will be referred as Hijras in both English and Bangla language. Any other translations in English is misleading,” the cabinet secretary said.

There are currently 10,000 Hijras living in the country he said, referring to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Welfare.

This has led the government to consider them as a separate gender alongside the existing male and female sexes, he said.

Hijras are already enlisted as voters in Bangladesh.

The move comes as the current government’s term draws to a close.

The Bangladeshi decision comes on the heels of the German government’s move to recognize the status of those of indeterminate gender. According to a Huffington Post article:

As of November, Germany will be the first country in Europe to offer a “third gender” distinction on its birth certificates.

A new German law stipulates that children who are born of indeterminate gender no longer have to be categorized as “male” or “female.” Instead, parents can choose to leave the space blank on their child’s birth certificate, according to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Those individuals can eventually decide whether to identify as male, female or neither.

There is a large Hijra community in India as well. Not sure if they have legal rights but their existence is socially accepted and recognized though they are by and large treated as outcastes. Below is an excerpt from a first person account by one of them:

Then there’s Kamal. He was the only son of an Ulhasnagar businessman. But from childhood he was fond of cross-dressing; wearing a sari and make-up. The family dismissed this as a kid’s fancy. But one day Kamal told his family: “I will not be able to live as you want me to, as a male.” Saying this, he left home. His best friends were Shiba and Vinnie, and all three of them became my chelas. Kamal’s folks landed up at my place in Thane. They were comforted to learn that their only son was safe and sound, and that we lived together as a family. Today, Kamal’s folks have opened their doors to her. Sometimes she goes home on overnight visits. She’s not in the family business of course, but works instead in a dance bar. She hands over her earnings to her folks, believing it to be her duty, though her parents are well-off and do not need her money.

A colleague at UWI, Julian Cresser, alerted me to the following. I had no idea:

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), formerly known as testicular feminization, is an X-linked recessive condition resulting in a failure of normal masculinization of the external genitalia in chromosomally male individuals. This failure of virilization can be either complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) or partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (PAIS), depending on the amount of residual receptor function.

Both individuals with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have 46,XY karyotypes. Individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have female external genitalia with normal labia, clitoris, and vaginal introitus.[1, 2, 3, 4] The phenotype of individuals with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome may range from mildly virilized female external genitalia (clitorimegaly without other external anomalies) to mildly undervirilized male external genitalia (hypospadias and/or diminished penile size). See the image below.

Penoscrotal hypospadias is shown. Note the associaPenoscrotal hypospadias is shown. Note the associated ventral chordee and true urethral meatus located at the scrotal level.In either case, affected individuals have normal testes with normal production of testosterone and normal conversion to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which differentiates this condition from 5-alpha reductase deficiency. Because the testes produce normal amounts of müllerian-inhibiting factor (MIF), also known as müllerian-inhibiting substance (MIS) or anti-müllerian hormone/factor (AMH/AMF), affected individuals do not have fallopian tubes, a uterus, or a proximal (upper) vagina.

For squeamish Jamaicans who insist that no such thing as ‘trans gender’ exists here try acquainting yourselves with the story of British socialite Lady Colin Campbell. Not only were her roots Jamaican she was born trans gendered much to the horror of her Jamaican father who reportedly advised her to take poison:

Lady Colin Campbell is one of our most flamboyant socialites. The 64-year-old is best known for her royal biographies, in particular her book, Diana in Private (“One of my closest friends was one of her closest friends”), which caused a sensation when it was published, with its revelations about Diana’s eating disorders, affair with James Hewitt and tales of marital strife, prior to Andrew Morton’s biography. She was dismissed as a fantasist, only to be later vindicated.

But royal scandals are as nothing in comparison with the roller coaster that has been Lady Colin’s own life. Born into Jamaica’s prominent Ziadie family, she gained her aristocratic title on marrying Colin Campbell, younger brother of the 12th Duke of Argyll in 1974. But when they broke up acrimoniously, she claims he sold the tabloids the – inaccurate – story that she had been born a boy.

Her outrage at his betrayal is undimmed with time. “I bitterly resent it, I resented it then, I resent it now and I will resent it until my dying day,” she says in her endearing half-Jamaican, half-upper-crust accent. “It was wildly inappropriate.”

Finally would love to know more about this. Grateful for any information, I don’t read the papers anymore and may have missed updates.

Corroborated: Crossdresser found dead in St. Catherine

03/11/2013 15:16:00

The body of 19-year-old Britney Ebanks o/c “Luke” was found on Thursday, October 31 in the community of Central Village, St. Catherine. The former winner of a “Miss World 2012” contest was reported missing on Sunday October 27, 2013 after failing to arrive at the home of friends that night. Residents stumbled upon the body on October 31 and summoned the police. The scene processed before the body was removed to the morgue.

Author: Annie Paul

writer, editor and avid tweeter anniepaulose@gmail.com

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