Interesting Facts About The Third Gender In India That We Must Know

Recently, the media was abuzz with the news about a new gender column of ‘third gender’ being added in the application for PAN cards. This was a good move.

In 2005, the transgenders were allowed to add an ‘E’ instead of male or female on their passports.

Inspiring people who belong to the third gender like Gauri Sawant (transgender rights activist, Laxmi Tripathi (transgender rights activist), Joyita Mondal (first transgender judge), K Prithika Yashini (first transgender IPS), Manabi Bandopadhyay (first transgender principal in a college), Padmini Prakash (first transgender TV news anchor) and many others have set benchmarks.

How much do we know about the third gender?

Photo: Richard Fraust

1. Their source of income:

Very few transgenders have jobs that other genders have due to the social stigma associated with it. The source of income for most transgenders in India is through ‘duas’ or ‘badhaais’. They perform at various functions and are given money for their blessings in India. Sadly, many work as sex workers to earn a living in absence of jobs.

2. The landmark judgement on transgenders:

In the case of National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India, the Supreme Court recognised the transgenders as a third gender. The judgement also recognized them as a socially and economically backward class who are entitled representation in education and jobs in India.

3. They have their own language:

Many transgenders speak a language of their own that is derived majorly from Urdu. The language is known as  ‘Hijra Farsi’.


4. Their funeral:

While not all transgenders may follow this ritual but as per their traditions, a hijra’s funeral is carried out at night and no one other than their own community can be present. It is a superstition that if anyone else sees the ritual, they will be born as one in their next birth.

5. In history:

In the olden days, hijras were trusted to be guards of women, even in the royal families. Also, they were appointed as generals in Mughal armies. An example of a hijra general would be Malik Kafur who was in the army of Alauddin Khilji.


6.  Their number:

In 2014, for the very first time, the transgender population was counted in India during the Census. According to the Times of India, as per the last counting, there are 4,90,000 transgenders in India. However, the number is expected to be six to seven times higher by different transgender activists.

7. Their education:

Transgenders have been ridiculed time and again in India. As if it was their fault that they were born as transgenders. Only 46% of the transgenders were literate according to Census 2014. The harassment and discrimination they face in schools lead to a high dropout rate amongst the transgender community.

Let’s give them the respect they deserve. They are human, and very much like us.

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Heer Khant
Heer Khant

Traveller | Writer | Photographer | Maverick | Social Worker | Lawyer | A freedom-loving woman for whom words are like wings to her soul. She believes in aliens, hates boundaries and lives like the first human on Earth.

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