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Awareness Of Rights Of The Third Gender: Need Of The Hour In India

The famed "Youtube vs. TikTok" discussion among the youth presented a crucial topic about our sensitivity to the "third gender." We may have progressed, but our attitude toward the third gender remains brutal. We still have diverse perspectives on them. We frequently hear comments like "chhakka hai kya?" "hijra hai kya?" "Talli bajayega," etc. directed at young boys or adult males who do not act manly enough in our daily lives. Isn't it past time for us to take a breather and recognise that such casual remarks sow the seeds of prejudice and partial hatred toward the third gender community? 

Since time immemorial, the patriarchy has instilled in us certain beliefs, such as associating masculinity with strength and femininity with sensitivity. The result of this irrational division is that we now regard everyone as different and inferior to us. Even in the progressive world, we treat third gender/transgender populations inhumanely. Instead of seeing them as individuals, we regard them as a source of shame and bad luck. Despite the fact that their legal position has improved, society's attitude has not changed.

According to Chaz Bono, an American writer, musician, and actor, - "There's a gender in your brain and a gender in your body. For 99 percent of people, those things are in alignment. For transgender people, they're mismatched. That's all it is. It's not complicated, it's not a neurosis. It's a mix up. It's a birth defect, like a cleft palate.''

It is vital to have a basic grasp of what gender is and how and by whom it is determined in order to identify or characterise who is a transgender person. To answer the topic of how and by whom this gender is determined, it's important to remember that none of us are born with a gender; rather, gender is assigned to each of us depending on the type of primary sexual traits or external genitalia we have. As a result, a newborn with genitalia that resembles a "vagina" is assigned gender female at birth, whereas an infant with genitalia that resembles a "penis" is assigned gender male at birth.

After establishing that gender is assigned, we must recognise that the gender assigned at birth may or may not correspond to a person's conception of their own gender as they grow older. As a result, some people may grow up feeling at ease and aligned with their 'felt' or personal sense of gender and the gender given to them, referred to as 'cisgender.' And there are those whose own/inner sense of gender differs from the gender assigned to them; these people are referred to as 'transgender.' In simple terms, a transgender person is someone whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.

Cisgender and transgender people have one thing in common: they are both born as human beings with human rights. Despite this, society considers the third gender community to be inferior, and discriminates against them since they do not adhere to "gender standards." The patriarchy is not the only one to blame; Bollywood also plays a role in degrading transgender people's status. Transgender characters have been mocked in the majority of movies for years, and very few art pieces demonstrate respect toward them. We preach that we are all God's creation, but we have reservations about respecting transsexual people. Isn't this a case of hypocrisy?

People of the third gender had a different standing in ancient times, and they were respected. The concept of 'tritiyaprakriti' or 'napumsaka' is found in Hindu mythology, folklore, epics, and early Vedic and Puranic literature. The term 'napumsaka' has been used to describe the lack of procreative aptitude, as shown by disparities in masculine and female creators. When Lord Rama was residing in the wilderness in the epic Ramayana, he asked all of his disciples to return to the city. The hijras were the only ones among his followers who felt obligated to stay with him. Because of their devotion, the Lord granted them the authority to bestow blessings on the people on auspicious events like childbirth, marriage, and inaugural functions, which were designed to set the stage for the Bahai habit of hijras singing, dancing, and bestowing blessings.

Transgender people's status has evolved over time. They were important in the Mughal sultanate. They were entrusted with guarding and protecting the palaces of women. They had powerful positions and were held in high regard. During the British Raj, however, attitudes regarding them shifted dramatically. Under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, the British classified the hijras as a 'branch of public decency' and classified them as a 'criminal tribe' or 'criminal caste.'

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has been used to harass and physically harm people of the third gender. As a result, the third gender community's civil rights and standing were stripped away. Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and economic status worked as catalysts in isolating them from society. They had a hard time getting jobs and were frequently exploited as a result of their identities.

The challenges that the third gender frequently faces, such as discrimination or outcasting, employment, education, toilet facilities, and so on, are widespread, mostly because we do not recognise their requirements and do not make an attempt to comprehend their perspective, desire, and mental condition. Their new status as subjects of the British Raj has influenced our perceptions of them. Our current ridicule of them is sufficient to demonstrate our lack of respect for them. The attitude of society toward these people is the sole reason why third-gender parents choose to abandon their children when they are young. 

It's no wonder that a third gender youngster is left to fend for himself in a country where a girl child is considered a burden. 'What would others think?' is a fear that many people have. These youngsters are pushed into the shadows, which leads to a terrible cycle of exploitation. The plight of their impoverished lives will endure unless we stop treating them as a disgrace. Though the Supreme Court's decision in NALSA vs. UOI offers persons the ability to legally recognise themselves as a 'third gender,' transgender people have the freedom to select their gender and identity. 

The judiciary has made a tremendous effort to provide opportunity and equality to these people, as well as dictating to the federal and state governments to implement more schemes for their welfare. However, this isn't enough; we still have a long way to go. We need to be more proactive in our approach. Our laws need to be updated. Personal laws, for example, limit marriage to a man and a woman. A woman can be a victim exclusively under the IPC provisions of the rape offence. If we want to live in a gender-neutral society, we must recognise the rights of transgender people as well as men and women.

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