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Most of us take being either a man or a woman for granted; it’s on of the basic facts of who we are. Although many of us are not conventional men or woman, we have always known with certainly the answer to the question, “are you a boy or a girl?” There are some among us who know with conviction the answer to that question, but it contradicts the reality of the bodies they born in.

This research has been conducted among those individuals who have identity crisis. In my work I mentioned those people as third gender. Hijras live all over the country in some small communities which is named as hijras community. I had worked on a small community in Satkhira district. They are totally isolated and marginalized people in our society. They don’t share all the social events freely due to their identity crisis. So they have adapted in the society in different ways. They live in their own community which is called as hijra community but they also have to adapt in their own hijra community. In doing this they had created some special languages, special social systems and also different type of sexual practices.

Statement of the problem
Theoretical Framework
Literature Review
Objectives of the Study
Scope and Importance of the research
Operational Definitions
Field work experience
Limitations of the study


Nothing seems more natural, unchangeable or desirable to us than those human beings are divided without reminder into two biological sexes, male and female, and into two genders, masculine and feminine. This division of humans into two sexes takes place at birth, when sex assignment is male or female; such sex assignment is assumed to be permanent. The concept of sex and gender as a system of two opposing and non-changeable categories male and female; masculine and feminine is so both common sense and most social science. It is difficult for most of us even think about any alternative to this view of sex and gender.

And yet, a cross-cultural perspective indicates that some cultures include more than two genders. Such alternative, or third gender roles, which are neither man nor woman have been described among the Omanis of the Saudia Arabian Peninsula (Wikan 1977); among many native American tribes (Williams 1986); in Tahiti (Levy 1973); and in New Guinea and among the Hijras of India (Nanda 1990). I want to do fieldwork among one such group in Bangladesh usually known as Hijra.

Hijras or hermaphrodites are people with ambiguous genitalia. Also called intersexed, hermaphroditism is primarily a medical condition which results from multifarious biological factors. The term ‘intersexed’ is reserved to refer to a somatic condition in which the hermaphroditic person is supposed to posses both masculine and feminine traits.

Nonetheless for the sake of conceptual clarity, it is important to elaborate upon some other associated, though not clearly distinct, terms like transsexual, transvestite and eunuch. Transexuality also known as gender dysphoria is a condition where a person claims to be trapped into the body of the wrong sex. Pretty often, through surgical operations, such persons metamorphose them into the desired gender/sex .On the other hand, transvestiteism is a situation in which a male tends to be attired in the garbs of the opposite sex and vice versa. This emblematizes their hunch for gender crossing. Eunuchs are castrated males.
In cases of gender dysphoria a man’s sex-surgery issues in his being castrated. Besides,

Transvestitic people especially those with the proclivity to dress as women are similar to many intersexed people who identify themselves as feminine. Eunuchs because of their being castrated experience sexual impotency like many hermaphroditic people. Consequently there is a considerable amount of overlap among these terms. However all these gargonistic and notional differences are peppered with reductive and heterosexists nuances and are therefore redundant to the sexually different. They have instead divined an umbrella term "transgender’ to subsume all these diverse categories.

However, Hijras of Bangladesh define themselves as people who are neither male nor female. They regard themselves as people incapable of sexual sensation. They also claim to have neither a male nor female genitalia.

The Hijras are viewed as “neither male nor female” containing elements of both. The Hijra are commonly believed by the larger society to be intersexes, impotent men, who undergo emasculation in which all or part of the genitals are removed. They adopt female behavior. Hijras traditionally earn their living by collecting alms and receiving payment for performances at weddings, births and festivals.

Hijras are most clearly ‘ not men ’ in relation to their claimed inability and lack of desire to engage in the sexual act as man with woman, a consequence of their claimed biological intersexuality and their subsequent castration. Thus Hijras are unable to reproduce children, especially sons, an essential element in our society’s concept of the normal, masculine role for males.

But if Hijras are ‘not men ’, neither is they women, in spite of several aspects of feminine behavior associated with the role. These behaviors include dressing as women, wearing their hair long, plucking their facial hair, adopting feminine mannerisms, and taking on women’s name and using female kinship terms and a special feminized vocabulary. But Hijras are not considered as women, because they cannot give birth, and their behavior such as their sexual aggressiveness is considered outrageous and very much in opposition to the expected demure behavior of ordinary women in their roles of wives, mothers and daughters. Hijra performances are essentially burlesques of women, and the entertainment value comes from difference between themselves, acting as women, and the real women they imitate.

The Hijras are outsider community in our society though they born in our society. They are outsider because in our society in every sector people are identified as male or female. But they are not fall into any of those categories.

They are marginalized in the society. They can not mix up frequently with others in the society. They live in their own communities. They have no normal sexual organ but they have sexual desires. They fulfill their desire in different ways.

Statement of the problem

Most modern discussions of the relationship of biological sex to gender presuppose that there are two genders male and female, founded on the two biological sexes. But not all cultures share this essentialist assumption. Bringing together historical and anthropological studies, Third Sex, Third Gender challenges the usual emphasis on sexual dimorphism and reproduction, providing a unique perspective on the various forms of socialization of people who are neither "male" nor "female". The existence of a third sex or gender enables us to understand how eunuchs and Hijras met the criteria of special social roles that necessitated practices such as self-castration and how intimate and forbidden desires were expressed. By conceptualizing these practices and by allowing these bodies, meanings and desires to emerge, Third Sex, Third Gender provides a new way to think about sex and gender systems that is crucial to contemporary debates within the social sciences.

Third gender categories and roles are described and educated a central descriptive of exploration and documentation. This required a basic understanding of the cultural and historical contexts in which the gender schemata under question have evolved, become institutionalized, changed and matured, for instance is a Hijra what criteria exist for the recruitment and legitimating of Hijras as individuals and as a categories? How long have the Hijras been defined as such in the Bangladeshi tradition.

Neither is the categories hermaphrodite or transsexual the same as third sex and third gender variations around the world not withstanding the enormous confusion surrounding the use of such terms. One is tempted for instance, to think of the Hijras or Bangladesh as hermaphrodites (or homosexuals). When, in fact they constitute a different kind of social person and cultural reality. Like wise the abuse of the term hermaphrodite in cross-cultural serological research shows the failure of this biologically oriented field to take seriously sex and gender variations. In the category of the eunuch there is a difference between some who is castrated and some one who castrated himself and there is a further classification.

Identifying individuals who diverge from the male and female categories can prove to be difficult even in cultures in which a third gender role is present, because the condition may nonetheless be somewhat disparaged or considered deviant. Because of laws and implicit rules, divergent individuals to whom these categories of being and action apply-sodomites, berbache, women dressed in men’s clothes, Hijras and son on-may slip between male and female roles. They may engage in the act of “passing” as normatively male or female or masculine or feminine. Though behaviors and practices that either set them apart from others or enable them to conform and to pass as normative such persons carve out a special niche in their societies. Thus if the Hijras bears a secret nature, there is not necessarily any reason to confess this nature for it may offer sensibilities or spiritual and social rules.

Theoretical Framework

Hijras are imitating their identity to perform their role in the society. Their identity in the society is neither male nor female. The impression management is a crucial factor for them to generate there social as well as sexual life, which can be approached adequately by Goffman’s (1956) framework.

Image projection of Hijras needs to perform a series of act in individual level to make them third gender, the performance can be considered as back stage performance.

In the front stage Hijras comply with overt culture (includes dress, talking and walking style and also their special body language). This non-verbal messages project the image of Hijra, through which they performs their role in their social interaction. The information that is flowed by them reacts to other on the basis of their belief in the image they have projected. They are concerned about the image they projecting and other are concerned about truth worthiness of that image.

Again their macro level interaction that means interaction with custom, institution and culture, above all their symbolic ritual is performing which made their identity. As because in the course of social interaction they feel themselves different from other people who are not Hijra, they feel themselves others and belonging in different community.

Impression management is also crucial for them because of their Hijra identity. They only over communicate their identity in presence of other Hijra, but under communicate in presence of other people due to the fear of stigma.

The Goffman’s micro and macro level interaction framework helps to understand their behavior. The face-to-face interaction model is explicitly relevant for identifying third gender and their inherent categorizations, again to know the process of interaction and role performance.

Again the polarization of meaning is adequately understand by the Goffman’s, (1964) “Management of spoiled identify” framework”. He portrayed the feature of all minority groups such as the Hijras share on decisive characteristics: they are socially ‘abnormal; and therefore in danger of being considered less than human. Whether ordinary people react by rejection, by over hearty acceptance or by plain embarrassment, their main concern is with an individual’s deviance, not with the whole of his personality.

Hijras have some symbolic interaction. Symbol, as with the three types of symbolic imagery described in stigma, stigma symbols, prestige symbols, and misidentifies, assume a more abstract location in the communicative process, a reification of verbal cues. Hijras are in the category of stigma symbols.

Goffman in his influential work stigma describes how social actors managed “spoiled” identities-does someone attempt to pass as “normal”, a categorical other. Unless it is avoid to discredit and the loss of social status. In the more extreme cases, he have long suggested the deviant or forbidden third sex or gender leads individuals to avoid being identified; that it they are forced to adapt the appearances and accoutrement’s of hegemonic social roles and practices. Alternate or third-gender roles are thus typically displaced to the illicit, immoral or illegal margins of society. Hijras are also in such condition in our society. He also found stigmatized situations where normal and abnormal meet, and have the ways in which a stigmatized person can share up his precarious social and personal identity. Using extensive quotations from autobiographic and case studies, Goffman, (1964) argues that stigma is intimately associates with stereotype, and that both are related to the unconscious expectations and norms which act as unseen arbiters in all social encounters.

In such stigmatized situation Hijras does not frequently share all the social events. Thus they have encountered less experience have to take regressive action to manage the spoiled identity for generation of social as well as sexual life. Goffman, (1964) suggests that individuals with socially undesirable behavior or carry an undisclosed stigma are confronted with the problem of information management: whether to display or not to display; to tell or not to tell; to let or not to let on; to lie or not to lie; and in each case to whom, how, when and where.

In such stigmatized situation Hijras does not frequently share all the social events.  Thus they have to take regressive action to manage the spoiled identity for generation of their life. The reality is that most of the researcher ignored the stigmatization process, but all the minority groups through out the world are facing stigma greatly, which influences their social lives.

Literature Review

For a special purpose to read analyze and summarize, books, articles is known as literature review. Every research is small part of knowledge. For this it is necessary to know about the world of knowledge. To know about the previous knowledge about the research topic related writings.

Serena Nanda (1999) has done her fieldwork among Hijras of India.  She marked Hijras as “neither male nor female” an institutionalized third gender role in India.

 She showed their:
 Cultural dimensions
Individual dimensions of the Hijra role
Hijra sexuality as a source of conflict.
Hijra impotence and creative Asceticism.
Hijras lived in predominantly in the cities of north India, where they fixed the greatest opportunity to perform their traditional roles. The most significant relationship in the Hijra community is that of the guruma (master, teacher), and chela relationship. When an in individual decides to join Hijra community, he is taken to Bombay to visit one of the seven major gurumas’ usually the guruma of the person who has brought him there. At the initiation ritual, the guruma gives the novice a new, female name. The novice vows to obey the guruma and the rules of the community. Hijras traditionally earn their living by collecting alms and receiving payment for performances at weddings, births and festivals.

The Hijra role accommodates different personalities, sexual needs, and gender identities without completely loosing its cultural meanings.

While the core of the positive meaning attached to the Hijra role is linked the negation of sexual desire, the reality is that many Hijras do, in-fact, engage in sexual activities. Because sexual behavior contrary to the definition of the role such activity conflicts for both the individuals and the community. Individual Hijras deal with the conflict in different ways, while the community as a whole resorts to various mechanisms of social control.

I also agree with Serena Nanda, In Bangladesh Hijras are also identified as ‘neither man nor woman’ they also play a special role in the society they earn their living by some special activities.

Their also lived in house there also have a guruma who is the leader of the house.
In our country Hijras are also engage in sexual activities to earn money for spend their livelihood. So the Nanda’s observation about Hijras is also visible in our country. [Nanda, 1999, pp-226-238]

In GAD discussions gender is still often described as socially constructed, and sex as biological. The categorizing of all human beings as 'male' or 'female' is left unquestioned. However, this does not always fit with local realities. Throughout South Asia, communities of ‘Hijras’ are formed by intersexes people, and by transgender people who were born male, but do not identify as such, many of whom opt for castration. It has been estimated that there are a half to one million Hijras in India alone (Bondyopadhay, 2002). Traditionally and today, Hijras are channeled into sex work and entertaining. Cultures of Hijras in South Asia, travesties in Brazil, lady boys in Thailand, or transgender in the USA all suggest that there is more to sex than just male and female. Perhaps ideas of sex are socially constructed too (One World Action Leaflet 2002). 

Bucholtz (2003) discussed in his work entitled “Postmodern Moment and the Resurgence of Interest in the Sexual Minority” the researcher has found that the world we live in is not only andocentric and phallocratic but also heterosexist and homophobic. The epistemological scaffolds of the discursive contours within which discourses of phallocentrism and heterosexism were hammered out have persisted almost unchallenged and unquestioned till the postmodern and the poststructuralist moments have arrived. With foucauldian genealogy and derridian deconstruction, many of the textual lacunas have now begun to be replenished.

Filling out of such textual gaps has given rise to new array of information hitherto underrepresented and undiscovered. Such charting out of newish data has led to a resuscitation of a fresh interest in the non-authoritative, subordinated knowledge systems of the vanquished sexual minorities. Notable in this connection is the case of the prostitutes who have now stood up to challenge the discursive dichotomisation and binaries which compartmentalize women into good and bad women.  Modern discourse has relegated the prostitute to the status of a stigmatized social other. Discursive obsession with banality has led to a scandalization and degradation of the sexually diverse prostitutes. Instead of viewing them as gurumas of sexual lore, they have for centuries been looked at as emblems of carnal divertissement for males.

Equipped with intellectual and conceptual paraphernalia the postmodernism and post-structuralism has proffered, they have finally fluttered out of the citadel of stigmata to reclaim their long-lost status of hetaera. New ways of intellectualizing about sexuality has led to a resurgence of interest in the muted voices of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transvestite, buggers, eunuchs, hermaphrodites, bigendered and Tran gendered people. Despite the phasing in of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies (also known as queer studies) in the academia of North America, specialized interest in the study of the hermaphrodites has been pretty skeletal.

Besides, early European studies of the hermaphrodites (mostly done in France) were purely medical in nature. Those studies largely zeroed in on developing techniques of surgical reconstruction of the hermaphroditic people. The western bio-medical sciences looked at the ‘hermaphroditic people’ as freaks or ‘aberrant cases’ needing medicalization and correction. Thus the methods developed to correct gender-transgresive hermaphrodites resulted in a form of ‘medico-colonization’ of the bodies of the hermaphrodites. Even today the birth of an intersexual child in the North America brings with it an endless list of problems for the whole society which endeavors to assign a sexual identity at the time of the birth of an offspring. Thus an intersexes child is subjected to surgical reconstruction to fit into male\female gender role. Cases where sex-assignment is impracticable are plunged into silence.

In the context of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh owing to an absence of the medico-technological growth and exorbitant expense, sex-assignment in the case of an intersexual child is not rampant. Though societies of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are heterosexist and homophobic, Hijras in this part of this world used to posses higher social prestige due to their being endowed with specific social roles.
In India, Hijras had been traditionally looked at spiritually powerful entities capable of blessing as well as cursing. In the Mughal empire, Hijras had been designated the custodians of harems (the closet within which wives, mistresses and concubines were kept)

Unlike Indian mythico-religious attitudinization, the etymology of the word ‘hermaphrodites,’ the English surrogate of Hijra clearly registers an ingrained fear of sexual difference. Another interesting aspect that sets the Hijras of Indian subcontinent apart from those of the west is their visibility. Until recently intersexual people were rarely visible in the west in public. In contrast Hijras of the Indian subcontinent are found to live in bands and groups. The cases of the hermaphroditic people in the west were mostly known through the reportage of the medical practitioners. More often than not, families of the intersexual are strongly advised to conceal ‘the facts of sexual difference’ from the intersexed. In cases where the intersexed discovers hir condition in adolescence, they are made to undergo psychological therapy to identify with a gender that their doctors deem appropriate for them. Only recently social help groups have come into existence to challenge the moral basis of the rights of the doctors and to provide the intersexed people with spiritual care and social succor.

Besides, Hijras in India are far better off in terms of social security and pecuniary solvency in comparison to Bangladesh and Pakistan. Apart from the preternatural traits people ascribe to the Hijras in India, they have higher incomes and a far sounder social life. Of late a Hijra named Shabnam has been elected a parliamentarian in India. Even in Pakistan a Hijra named Mohammed Aslam, was put up as a candidate by the people of Abbott bad in the 1990 election.

In contrast the Hijras of Bangladesh about whom this paper will address more in the later pages have no social rights. Hijras or hermaphrodites are people with ambiguous genitalia. Also called intersexed, hermaphrodites are primarily a medical condition which results from multifarious biological factors. The term ‘intersexed’ is reserved to refer to a somatic condition in which the hermaphroditic person is supposed to posses both masculine and feminine traits.

Nonetheless for the sake of conceptual clarity, it is important to elaborate upon some other associated, though not clearly distinct, terms like transsexual, transvestite and eunuch. Tran sexuality also known as gender dysphoria is a condition where a person claims to be trapped into the body of the wrong sex. Pretty often, through surgical operations, such persons metamorphose them into the desired gender/sex .On the other hand, transvestitism is a situation in which a male tends to be attired in the garbs of the opposite sex and vice versa. This emblematizes their hunch for gender crossing. Eunuchs are castrated males.

In cases of gender dysphoria a man’s sex-surgery issues in his being castrated. Besides, Transvestite peoples especially those with the proclivity to dress as women are similar to many intersexed people who identify themselves as feminine. Eunuchs because of their being castrated experience sexual impotency like many hermaphroditic people. Consequently there is a considerable amount of overlap among these terms. However all these gargonistic and notional differences are peppered with reductive and heterosexists nuances and are therefore redundant to the sexually different. They have instead divined an umbrella term "transgender’ to subsume all these diverse categories.

However, Hijras of Bangladesh define themselves as people who are neither male nor female. They regard themselves as people incapable of sexual sensation. They also claim to have neither a male nor female genitalia.
( Bucholtz, 2003, pp-35-140)

Adnan Hossain (2001) describes about Hijras in his article "Asexual Others"  The enigmatic Hijras, the male to female transgender and intersexuals of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - few is known about them in the west, most of it consists of prejudices and wrong images. "Westerners" who deal with the Hijras, for whatever purpose, often tend to overstate their relationship to Hinduism and Hindu - culture. This is in no way strange, since in "the West" Hinduism tends to be identified with "tolerance, patience, non-violence" while Islam is connected with "terrorism, fanatism etc.” So, it is easily understandable that Europeans and Americans automatically relate the issue of gender diversity to Hinduism and not to Islam.  In fact, the Hijra community is as much rooted in Indo - Pakistani Islam as it is in Hinduism; many Hijras, if not most, are Muslim - not only in Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh but also in Hindu-secular India - and their old connection to the dynasties of Muslim rule in India are an issue of pride to all of them, including the Hindus.  Hijra is only the most frequently used term to describe them. It is derived from Urdu, the poetical language of the Indian Subcontinents Islamic culture. Another widely used word for them is "khusra" which is from the Punjabi language (Northwest India, Northeast Pakistan). The Arab - Muslim term "mukhannath/muhannas" is also used in certain contexts and many Hijras prefer that term. In English literature the word "eunuch" is most often employed to refer to them. This is correct as long as you relate it to the medieval Muslim understanding of a eunuch (who was usually a mukhannath), but still it might conjure wrong pictures of "castrated men" in the minds of westerners.

The Hijras are a remarkable community. Some Hijras claim that "their society was once known from India to Spain", which was the expansion of the medieval Muslim empire, and older Hijras who did the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) sometimes hint to a close connection between their society and the ancient society of "eunuchs" that guarded the grave of noble Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and the sacred mosque in Makkah. In that way one might assume that today`s Muslim Hijra communities are the only intact survivors of medieval Muslim "mukhannath" society, while at the same time having local connections to ancient Hindu traditions.  On these pages I will explain some features of "Hijra - culture" and their relationship to Indo- Pakistani Islam. Hopefully I might also dispel some prejudices and wrong myths. May God bless the Hijra community in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, may he guard the Hijras and may he guard their precious heritage!  (Hossain Adnan, 2001, pp 35-89).

Cameron & Kulick (2003) who worked among the Hijras in India In today` s post-colonial world the status of the mukhannathun in the societies of India and Pakistan has an ambiguous character that depends on situations, geographical regions or simply on personal likes and dislikes.

In general one can say that they are still respected in certain ways. However, they also may be ridiculed at in some circumstances. In general Hijras claim that in northern India and in Pakistan they earn a lot more respect than in the Deep South. The highest respect they still find in old cities with a rich Muslim heritage, especially Luck now which once was the seat of the Nawab of Oudh. Indians, since colonial times confronted with European values and Western exceptions, feel probably somehow unsure about their relationship to the Hijras. No one would ever dare to ridicule them face to face, but still people may make fun of them behind their backs. Maybe the attitude that Hijras have to face in India` s and Pakistan’s main entertainment industry, the movie business, shows this ambiguity in attitude towards them in the best way. In the past years there have been some serious Bollywood Movies in which Hijras played the main role  in a dramatic plot ( like in "Tamanna" and "Darmiyaan", describing the life of the mukhannath Tikku), but they are also frequently hired to play "comical fun parts" in mainstream productions, giving the reason for a "good laugh" in the audience. Actually, this reminds me a lot of how transgender are treated in western film industry.

During the British raja the colonials passed a law in which the Hijras were described as "sodomites" and people who did "homosexual offenses". This was the first time ever that Hijras were openly discriminated against in Indian history. The centuries of Muslim rule had never seen such an accusation (although from time to time some rulers wanted to abolish the act of castration)!  Although Hijras were still hired as court eunuchs in places like Hyderabad and Lucknow, they couldn’t` t works their original jobs in places of the Indian Subcontinent that were more heavily controlled by the British. Unfortunately, the British tries of abolishing the Hijras and their society found some support among many wealthy  Indians, Muslims and Hindus alike, who considered themselves "modern thinking" (which to them meant: to think western). Many Hijras only had one opportunity to earn money and to survive:

The noble Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) had given the mukhannathun a place in society so that they didn’t need to earn their money with erotically entertainment; now, because this place was taken away from them, some of them had to go back to "erotically entertainment" (prostitution). Actually - no wonder, since we are talking about a European governed area - this mirrored a lot the development that took place among transgender in the West. In the past most western TGs also had no other opportunity to survive than selling their bodies. Many still have to, today.

I don` t claims that there haven` t had been Hijra prostitutes before the British Raj. There have been, just like there have been male and female prostitutes. But during Muslim rule it was never their main occupation, it was an exception! In today` s India and Pakistan Hijras are still stigmatized as prostitutes, although there is only a certain part of them that really sells their bodies. One has to know that prostitution is in no way seen as an ideal among Hijras. In houses of traditional living Hijras prostitution is strictly forbidden and Hijra elders severely distance themselves from those who prostitute themselves. One has also to know that prostitution is mainly an issue of big cities like Bombay and Karachi. It is only a minor issue in rural areas and this is equally true for male and female prostitutes as for Hijras.

The idea that Hijras are in some way connected to prostitution per se is as wrong as the idea that western transgender are. Traditional Hijras, living together in a social network that stems from the times of the Moghul Empire, try to lead a pious life, doing good to fellow humans. Many see themselves as "abstaining ascetics", although this ideal may not be fully lived by all of them. Prostitution is frowned upon, but it exists, because of the intolerance of society!

Another way of stigmatization stemming from colonial times is the ideas that "Hijras kidnap children and force them to be castrated and become Hijra". This is a parallel to the western legend that "transgender could have a bad influence on our children". The Indian police have investigated acclaimed cases of "Hijras kidnapping children" and have found none of them to be true. In fact, many mukhannathun in India and Pakistan care for children that have been left alone by their families with much love (Which forms the plot for the movie "Tamanna")
To put up with the social stigma that they have to face, Hijras usually relate themselves to their "glorious past as guards of sacred boundaries" in the years of Muslim rule. To many of them the idea that they are much more respected in northern India than in the South is related to the fact that there are much more Muslims in northern India and that northern Indian culture in general carries many Muslim influences. If this s true might be open to dispute, however, it shows in what way Hijras -Muslim and Hindu Hijras alike - relate to Islam and its history on the subcontinent.

Furthermore, many Hijras believe that "political skills" belong to their heritage, since in the past they were so close to the ruling class. History mentions many Hijras who rose to high positions in the Moghul Empire and in the Muslim principalities. Many were of a significant influence and some even may have been the "true rulers" of the empire. In fact, Hijra society itself carries on many political features of the Moghul Empire.

Today Hijras are very active in local politics. Especially in India, but also in Pakistan. And, besides having been stigmatized during colonial times, many have an impressive amount of voters. A new slogan arose: "There is one solution to useless politicians, give the mandate to eunuchs." In a town called Gorakhpur a Hijra with the name Asha Devi became mayor, another called Kamala Jaan became mayor in Katni; nowadays there are many local Hijra politicians on the Indian subcontinent, all following in the footsteps of "auntie" Shabnam (or Shabnam Mausi, as it is in Hindi/Urdu), the first mukhannath member of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly. In Hindu-folk-lore there is an old legend according to which "in the end of time there will be an age in which the Hijras will rule", because of a blessing from God. Many Hijras believe this time has come! (Cameron & Kulick, 2003, pp 30-80)

Objectives of the Study

Most of he people takes being either a man or a woman for granted, although many of them are not conventional men or women. Hijras are one of those types of people. The researcher’s endeavor is to find out how biological difference distinguishes them from majority people and how they minimize it. 

Specific Objectives:

To find out the identity making process of Hijras.
To know about their social system.
To know about their sexual behavior.
To find out the process of their adaptation in the society.

Scope and Importance of the research

This perspective on the transcendence of sex and gender variations guides the anthropological and historical analysis that follow in several ways. First to reexamine and redefine studies of sex and gender in light of critiques of sex/gender dimorphism. Which generally suggest the limitations of a reproductive paradigm? Of course there are conceptual dangers involved in braking precipitously with the past convention of distinguishing arbitrary between sex (as biology and nature) and gender (as culture and nature). Second it is shown that in some places and times individuals are grouped into divergent ontological categories identities, tasks roles practices and institutions that have resulted in more that two kinds of persons that is what should classify as two sexes (male and female) or genders (masculine and feminine).

Gender, a learned social role, helps explain why individuals can vary from what is otherwise considered the biological destiny of their sex. Gender polices sex and creates a ground for morality. That is, gender can vary from physical sex. In my research I want to explore why they are viewed as third gender. For this intensive fieldwork should be needed among Hijra.

In Anthropology only two genders masculine and feminine are discussed. But there are some individuals who are not included both of two categories. They born in the society but they are excluded. So their identification should be found out in Anthropological perspective. But now for urbanization and commercialization their traditional activities for earning money are changing. Some of them now are working as sex worker.

In Bangladesh Hijras are usually known as third gender. Very few anthropological researches have done among them. Their social identity and process of adaptation should be found out. They don’t take education and they have no salary-oriented job. So they have special activities for their economic support.

For this they are marked as a risky group for the spread of HIV and STD. Now HIV and STD is a burning issue in the world as well as in Bangladesh. For this many non-government organizations are working among Hijras to improve their condition especially their health. But for changing their condition actual cause for creating of these situations should be find out by intensive research among those people.   I choose them for my third gender study because they are identified as not male or not female. They have also special characteristics.


The study population of my study is Hijras. A large number of Hijras lived in the Southwest region of Bangladesh. From my childhood I saw they them there so I choose my field there. My study unit will be individual. I collect primary data from about (20-25) sample.

Sources of data
The data has been collected from both primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources:
The main sources of data collection are primary sources. That means I collected data directly from the informants by doing intensive field work. As it is an anthropological research so it was essential for me to collect data from field. When anybody took data directly from the informant it is more undated. Otherwise its always a chance to get misinformation. So I have been collected data from primary sources for more validity.

Secondary sources:
Most of the data for researches have been collected from primary sources. I also collected from secondary sources. Related books articles journals etc are included in secondary sources. I also have collected from online and took information from some specialist anthropologist like Serena Nanda who helped me to finish the work.

The sampling techniques will be “purposive sampling”, because this technique is selected by some arbitrary methods and it as known to be the representative of the total population. For the representation of the Hijra community. These techniques have been the perfect one. It is known as produce well-matched groups. It is appropriate in a study which emphasis on the control of certain specific variables. So it will be applicable for explore the Hijras adaptation and identity in the society and also about their behavior. 

The techniques of my primary data collection are as follows.

Key Informant Technique:
It is one of the main sources of primary information about any intensive study of social phenomena. This technique is very useful and some fine indispensable when by the presence of researcher, the study people’s natural life style have ceased to exist or sharply modified. It is great effective and more reliable in some specific data collection. Key informant can also help researcher to familiar with the study community. Here key informant technique should use to get some primary information about the Hijras and access in their community.

Informal Interview:
The central form of this type of interview is its open-ended character. It provides qualitative depth-allowing interviewers to talk about the subject in terms of their own way. This allows the meanings and interpretations that individuals attribute to events and relationships to be understood. It thereby provides a greater understanding of the subject’s point of view. This type of interview technique has been followed in this research because they can talk freely and in their own terms.

Unstructured Questionnaire or Check List:
In this type of questionnaire there are some possible question related to the research objectives. If the researcher need he or she can change it. It this type of questionnaire the researcher have much flexibility. In this research this type of questionnaire has been used for interview.

Focus Group Discussion:
It is kind of group discussion where discussion have conduct with special target to fulfill research objectives. From F.G.D. multidimensional data can be found. Informant feels comfort give information in F.G.D. There may be 6to 12 individuals in a F.G.D. but perfect number is 8. In this research this technique has been used because in this way Hijras will feel comfort to give information.

Case Study
Case studies are the detailed presentation of ethnographic data relation to some sequence of events from which the analyst seeks to make some theoretical inference. The events themselves may relate to any level of social organization a whole society, some selection of a community, a family or an individual. Through this kind of research technique vast information about any issue can be gathered. Every case is important for represent the total population. In my research I have used this technique for collecting and presenting some individual’s special events or case.

Life history
A life history narrative highlights the most important influences, experiences, circumstances, issues, themes and lessons of a lifetime. As such, a life history narrative can be as valuable an experience for the persons telling their history, as it is successful research endeavor for the gathering data. Life histories focus on situating a life with in its social and cultural milieu and considering the sharp turnings, and choices that an individual makes in specific circumstances and what these beings beliefs and attitudes in general. I have followed this technique to know about Hijras adaptation and know about their life cycle.

Operational Definitions

Hijra: The term Hijra, which, is of Urdu origin and the masculine gender, has the primary meaning of hermaphrodite. It is usually translated as eunuch. In our country Hijra means those who are anatomically true hermaphrodite and a special character distinguished a class of individuals from both men and women and attributed them with a constellation of traits comparable to those traits used to define other gender.

Sexual Identity:  sex is polarity of anatomy. Sexual identity is how you see yourself physically; male, female or in between. If someone is born female, but wishes to see their body as a male in all respects, their sexual identity is male. We call such a person a transsexual, whether or not they have had any surgery.

Gender identity: Gender is a polarity of appearance and behavior. Gender identity is how you see yourself socially: man, woman or a combination of both. One may have a penis but prefer to relate socially as a woman, or one may have a vagina, but prefer to relate as a man. One might prefer to be fluid, relating sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman, or one might not identify as either one, relating androgynously.

Androgyne: Person appearing and identifying as neither man nr woman, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.

Transgenderist: Person who lives as gender opposite to anatomical sex, i.e., person with penis living as woman.
Transsexual: An individual anatomically of one sex who firmly believes s/he belongs to the other sex. This belief is so strong that the transsexual is obsessed with the desire to have his/her body, appearance, and social status altered to conform to that of his/her “rightful” gender.

Transvestite: Person who enjoys wearing clothes identified with the opposite gender, often but not always straight.

FTM (female to male): Born females but see themselves as partly to fully masculine

MTF (male to female): Born males but see themselves as partly to fully feminine.

Intersex:  It is an intermingling in one individual of characters in both sexes in varying degrees, including physical form, reproductive organs and sexual behavior. It results from some defect in the embryonic development.

Hermaphroditism: This is a very rare condition of bisexuality in which a person has both male and female sexual organs. In this condition an ovary and a testicle or two ovotestics are present with the external genitalia of both sexes. The somatic sex chromatin may be male or female.

Prostitution: Banning the essentialist construction of prostitution as the female sexual service through payment, the researcher defines the prostitution:
“When person whether male or female sells of his/her own body as occupation for the recreation or enjoyment to others i.e. clients for their material benefit may be defined as prostitution. And the actors who sell the body as occupation might be belonged in the category of prostitute.”
Homosexuality: A broad category, which refers to the general phenomenon of same sex eroticism. Comprise all sexual phenomena between persons of same sex, whether the result of conscious preference, subliminal desire or circumstance.

Field work experience

When I was first entered the field, the intention of my mind is to learn about the     life of Hijras. It was my first visit, on 14th July 2004 to pre-test the field situation carrying some formal questions to get experience about the probable problems and possibilities of the fieldwork. Actually the aim of my first visit is to design the methodological aspects. The process was going on only three days with a small quantity of Hijras.

After encountering field situation, I reformulate and redesign my way of data collection. During this period, I found someone informative, who latter on, played key informant role. Within a short period, I found on of my friends who is involve with Hijras

Accompanying with him I used to visit Hijras community where they lead their life. In primary stage of my field work I felt in great difficulties to build up rapport mainly for their language. After few days talk to them and also with the help of my key informant I was able to build up my rapport with Hijras.

After that I was began to collect information about Hijras. I usually collect data from informal interview, collecting life histories. I also collect information from case study.

I usually use diary, notebooks, and camera for record the information. I visit Hijras house seventeen times. At last I had finished my fieldwork I gathered both pleasure and pain from the work.

Limitations of the study

In every research there would be some limitations. In this   study the researcher also has some limitations.

One of main that time duration, the researcher have got one semester for the work but it could not be easier to stay in the study area because of continuous academic purposes (class, term test). As the shortage of time it was very difficult for the researcher to build up rapport with the study population and it makes more difficult for their language. So conversation with them was very hard for the researcher.

Another major problem is money. Though research is so much expansive, university didn’t give any kind of economic support for the researcher. Enough books and journal about related issues are not available in central library of SUST and another library of Sylhet town even in Dhaka.  In every study sufficient book is essential. So the researcher has collected book from online and also from abroad which is very costly.              

Besides all those limitations the researcher has tried his best to complete a good research.

    Background of the study population
Study area
Socio- economic profile

Background of the study population
The emotive word 'eunuch' usually refers to a man or boy who was a harem attendant or a functionary in certain Asian courts and was derived from the Greek word eunoukhos, 'a castrated person employed to take charge of the women of a harem and act as chamberlain.' The Greek word is derived from eun, 'bed,' and ekhein, 'to keep’ Usually castration involves the removal of the testes before puberty thus preventing the physical changes of manhood; muscle mass never develops, the voice never deepens, the penis never grows larger, hence mostly useless as a sex organ, and facial and body hair does not develop.  The eunuch is likely to put on weight like a female, develop a thin layer of fat under soft skin, and have extra weight around the hips and the stomach.  "Male Pattern Baldness" does not develop and they may live ten to fifteen years longer than other males.  He would face the problems of depression, as well as the threat of osteoporosis in older age. The term usually identified now for the pre-pubescent eunuch is the castrato. A male castrated after puberty will already have all of the secondary sexual characteristics of a man and will be indistinguishable from any other except for a lack of testes but he would experience "hot flushes" as his body withdraws from the hormone testosterone.  Another difference in the Castrato/Eunuch is, according to a modern day eunuch, a total lack of interest in sex although some, especially those castrated after puberty, sometimes retained their sex drive and the ability to achieve a long-lasting but orgasm-less erection. The process for creating a eunuch remained relatively unchanged. The boy or man was strapped spread-eagled to a table. A thin cord was knotted tightly around his genitals, and, with a sharp razor, the organs were amputated. The wound was then cauterized by the application of either a red-hot poker or molten tar. He was deprived of water for several days to prevent urination, which could cause infection. Then he was forced to drink enormous amounts of water, until the pressure in his bladder punctured a hole in the layers of scar tissue. The fatality rate was as high as 90 %. Chinese eunuchs often also had their penis as well as there testicles, completely "shaved off", which was considered more effective. Using only hot chilli sauce as a local anesthetic, the Chinese operation was one swoop, using a small, curved knife. The custom of employing eunuchs in royal households is ancient. In Egypt the term was applied to any court official, castrated or not. Their power, influence and courage are amply shown in the histories of Iran, India, and China, where they were often involved in public affairs. In China the practice of using castrated men as guardians of the emperor's Inner court began over 2,000 years ago. Aside from the emperor, eunuchs were generally the only men allowed in the inner courtyards of the palace, where the women and harem lived. All other men left the palace at night. The employment of eunuchs reached its height in the courts of the Byzantine emperors at Constantinople, from whom the Ottoman sultans adopted the practice. Eunuchs often rose to high positions. Muslim rulers employed eunuchs mainly as harem officials but this was far less common than is generally believed; however, the sale of young males to be eunuchs was an important element of African trade. The voluntary practice of castration for religious celibacy appeared early in Christian history particularly in the third century, but it was not officially approved of by the church and was eventually denounced, however from Constantinople spread the custom of using eunuchs in choirs. In the opera seria of the eighteenth century the male heroes' roles were sung by castrati, and the papal choir used castrati until the beginning of the nineteenth century. ‘...Neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name that have not be cut off.’ (Isaiah 56:3b-5)

In our country the third gender people are well known as Hijra. They lived all over the country and lived in a small unit; usually (5-10) Hijras lived in a small unit. There is also a chief in every Hijra house, who maintains and takes decisions about others.

Traditionally, Hijras earn their living by performing at life-cycle ceremonies, such as the birth of a child, at marriage ceremony and they collect money from market and from shopkeeper in sexual festivals.

Study Area
My study area is in the Satkhira district. Satkhira district is in the Khulna division. It’s north Jessore, south Bay of Bengal and in west Khulna, East             west -Bengal of India. Total area of the district is about 3,858 square kilometers. The population of the district is about 16, 60,000. There are seven Thana’s in the district. There are as follows Satkhira sadar, Kaligang, Debhata, Tala Ashaasuni, Shamnogar, and Kolaroa. My study population lived in a place named Patkelghata near the Kobadak River, which is situated in the Tala Thana and 13 kilometers a part from Satkhira sadar. There are 50-60 Hijras lived in the Satkhira district. There are about 20 Hijras lived in the Patkelghata. Though Hijras have no permanent house but these Hijras lived there from 5-7 years. I collect data from them; besides them I may collect information from other Hijras too.

As a social being, people always involve in action with each other in the process of interaction. The interaction leads towards particular identity of those that presents in the situation. This identity of a person depends on multiple statuses what he posses within their socio-cultural framework by which he plays in action. The formation of multiple status is the allocation of various factors from which role performance is occurred through the frame of rights and obligations, that implies people’s behaviors and practices, belief and awareness; actually people’s knowledge and understanding is build up through encountering experience.

The Hijras of Satkhira complies with multiple statuses in which their role performance categorizes themselves in to distinct group. The categorization mainly based on their status in the society and also in the Hijras community. Guruma, Chief chela and jonnn Hijras both the has different status in the Hijras community and they play different roles in the society..
It is because their socio-economic position, so it must be explored for better understanding of their identity and role. Regarding Before summing up the socio-economic position, it must be noted that role performance is the combination of person’s belief and practices.

Socio-economic profile

Socio-economic profile has been analyzed in the above two basic frameworks, chhibry (passive male) and jenana (active male), also ambiguous identity, akua has been taken into account. Three parts are different in status in their continuous journey of sexual life of which they gain distinct experience through interaction with each other. These are described and analyzed below.

Hijras categorization
The field materials represent three categorization frameworks: chhibry, jenana and akua.
Hijras identity and categorization among the respondent

Type    No. of respondents    Percentage      
Jenana     10
08    40%
                                               N=25                                        100%
                                        Source: primary data


The table has shown that the highest percentage, 40% belong to chhibry; akua 28% and finally jenana 32%. But the jenana rate is not true all the time because of error in sampling. The error has not successfully solved because of the strict socio-religious and stigmatized conditions. Jenana has seen available in my study, but they are not flexible in involving as respondents in my study, even they request me not to write something about their illegal, immoral practices (their own perception).

Age of chhibry respondents

Range of age    No. of respondents    Percentage       
40+    2
2    20%
                                                 N=10                                    100%
                                Source: primary data
The table represents that younger age chhibry are common, even the prevalence rate is high than the middle and older ages. The rate is decreasing correspondingly increasing of age.

Age of akua respondents

Range of age    No. of respondent    Percentage       
40+    1
0    14%
                                           N=7                                      100%
                                Source: primary data

The table represents that the rate is high in the youth age, 29% among the age range of 21-25, and the rate decreases among the age range of 26-30. Again the rate decreases in the increases of respondents’ age.

Age of jenana respondents

Range of age    No. of respondent    Percentage       
40+    1
2    12.5%
                                           N=8                                      100%
                                Source: primary data

Although the table represents part of the reality, yet it revealed that the rate of jenana is high among the youth age range (26-30) is 37.5%.

Occupation is a major aspect of one’s own status. Among the 10 chhibry respondents, 5 are full time sexual workers. 2 are part time sexual workers involving various. On the other hand, the other 3 chhibry work on various field, but they are not categorized as sexual worker but to meet their sexual urge through the chhibry identification. Besides this they are doing their traditional works.
Occupation status of chhibry respondents

Type of occupation    No. of respondents    Percentage       
     Full time    5    50%      
     Part time    2    20%      
Others     3    30%   
                                                 N=10                                             100%
                                Source: primary data
The table represents that 50% are full time sexual workers and 20% are part time, and other 30% are involved in various

Again among 7 akua respondents, 3 are full time sexual workers; 2 are part time workers but mainly work in various fields. And other 2 are in job but occasionally play sex role as akua.

Occupational status of akua

Type of occupation    No. of respondents    Percentage       
     Full time    3    42.85%      
     Part time    2    28.575%      
Others     2    28.575%   
                                                  N=7                                     100
Souurce: primary data

Occupational status of jenana respondents

Types of occupation    No. of respondents    Percentage       
Sexual worker    3    37.5%      
Traditional occupation     5    62.5%      
Business    1    12.5%   
                                             N=8                                               100%
                                Source: primary data
The table represents that jenana also belong into the category of sexual worker, although the rate of percentage is low, only 12.5%. The data implies that jenana can have various social positions.
Most of Hijras involve in temporary work. So their income is not fixed all the time. The earnings are also important factors of one’s status. Among the Hijras, most of the chhibry who are sexual worker earn in average of 900/- per week, and the jenana earns maximum 300-500/- per week. Other Hijras, who involve in their traditional activities, earns 300-500/- per week. Only Guruma earns 3,000-5,000/- per week. Thus the income has shown that most of the Hijras are economically in good situation.
Thus the situation is that Guruma’s income is very high. He takes a percentage from others. He exploited others who are his chelas.


Causes of their born
Classification of Hijras:
Stigmatization and making of their identities

Causes of their born
When a new baby makes the difficult and exhausting journey through it’s mother’s vagina into the world beyond, the question relatives ask first (assuming no unusual trauma) has usually been, “Is it a boy or a girl?” This question, which is more important to the family than size or other features of outward appearance, will also do more to affect the child’s life than any other single factor, save perhaps race or poverty.
Even as a newborn, psychologists have found, the child will be treated differently depending on gender. If female it will be cooed at fussed over, gently touched, and smiled at for being quiet, inert, and complacent. If male, it will be more vigorously handled and any loud sounds or thrashing of limbs will be cheered as signs of masculine vigor. Later whether the child will be given a doll or a toy truck, will be cuddled and fussed over after an injury or told to shake it off, or whether the child will be scolded or praised for boisterous, risky behavior -- all these, even today, will still hinge largely on gender. By the time this same individual reaches the choices and options of adult life, personality (shaped by gender influenced interactions), has already been molded into distinctly male or female modalities.
Meanwhile these differing reactions are only a small part of a whole system of social relationships which are underpinned by issues of gender -- or more specifically, on the idea that men and women do and should look differently, act differently, and contribute differently to society. Although gender roles are probably more relaxed now than at any time in Western history, issues of living up to cultural gender stereotypes still cause insecurity, repression, and even deadly acts of violence. How one dresses, speaks, walks, and with whom one has sex are all determined by gender -- or so our social traditions would tell us.
Historically, issues of gender roles have taken such bizarre twists as prohibitions against women wearing trousers, or even underpants -- as any article of clothing which parted the female legs was viewed as an obscene reminder of the leg parting that accompanied sexual intercourse. But a more basic and enduring example of gender obsession occurs in the English language itself, one of many languages in which one can scarcely even address or refer to another human being without knowing that person's gender. Thus in the supermarket, mother's are routinely asked "Is it a boy or girl?" before the speaker can then go on to declare, "He is so handsome!" or "He is so pretty!" Note that both pronoun and appropriate adjective both depend on gender. Imagine the admirer's reaction if the mother replied, "Neither actually," or even, "Both!"
And yet, in the delivery room, in those first heady moments following childbirth, the question of whether a child is a boy or a girl is occasionally met with a significant pause. The doctors will hurry to explain that, what with hormones and swelling and so on and so forth, the appearance of the newborn’s genitals can appear a little confusing. In fact, the doctors, will admit, we haven’t yet verified the child’s gender. But rest assured, your child has a definite gender, and soon enough we’ll know what it is.
This idea that gender comes in only one of two varieties is an idea so firmly entrenched in our society that even medical professionals would hardly think to question it. But in actual fact, since time immemorial, the human race has been birthing forth children whose gender is not so clear cut. That is, as with the individuals pictured above, they bear some aspects of one gender and some aspects of the other.
That our modern society scarcely acknowledges this fact is an artifact of culture rather than physiology. That is, while nature herself has seen fit to grow breasts on bodies that also have penises and cuts on bodies that will have chest hair and testicles; our culture has chosen to turn a blind eye to this fact and to treat intersexed persons as defective males or defective females. In order to justify this stance, the medical profession has sought to establish single, clear-cut criteria for gender determination. In the 19th century, physicians gleefully declared that male or female had nothing to do with external appearances or whether one did or didn't menstruate -- it was, they said, purely determined by the gonads.
That is, while all infants begin life as an androgynous being with no penis or vagina, they very soon develop gonads. And these gonads, by birth, will have developed into testes in the male and ovaries in the female. Therefore, anyone with testes could now be called male and so on. Of course the main problem here was that unless one could find the testicles, one did not know if the ambiguously gendered individual was female or simply a male whose balls were still hidden somewhere inside him. The only answer was surgery -- still a very risky procedure in those days.
To further complicate things however, it turns out that some females actually manage to be born without ovaries -- and indeed without any other internal female equipment (vagina, womb, fallopian tubes) -- and develop into fairly androgynous individuals. While some males are born with bodies completely unable to respond to their own testosterone, developing into an extremely womanly individual.
Such confusions have long been a source of consternation and concern for doctors who saw themselves as charged with accurately declaring a person's true gender. The failure to spot a male clad in female seeming flesh would, they thought, lead to the horror of unchecked lust in the convent and the boarding school. Surely, they believed, male gonads would lead the owner to seduce the unwary true females by whom he was surrounded. Or, worse yet, this confusion of gender might easily lead to all manner of homosexual perversions. Imagine the excitement and relief then when scientific advancement gave the world a genetically based definition of male and female. Males bore the tell tale XY chromosomes and females the XX. If their gonads were not obviously detectable, or if they were missing all together, then a simple tissue sample would set the whole thing straight. But alas, individual human beings do not always conform to the rule. That is some are born XXY while others are born simply X. 
But because our society has tried long and hard to pretend that people only come in two sexual flavors, man and woman, anyone who falls outside this template has been forced to conform, mimicking one gender norm or the other. On rare occasions, such persons have sought to turn the tables on the game and exhibit themselves for wealth and fame, but usually they have been forced hide themselves away, as though they were perverts, rebels against the social order. This is hardly surprising given that women who dressed or acted like men were a threat to male property inheritance and various other penis perks. Additionally men who comported themselves like women were seen as instigators of homosexuality (as they were either men wanting to have sex with other men, or men wanting to have sex with women who themselves lusted after other female-appearing persons), and so they too were a threat to the social order.
And yet, long after it has become acceptable to acknowledge that some children are born "different", physically or mentally, and to shower them and their families with sympathy and support, children who are born differently gendered are not spoken of. A special sense of shame attaches to having a child whose genitals are not as expected. Consider that in our society, at least, most parents still opt to circumcise their male infants, no matter how painful and unnecessary just to avoid the stigma of dealing with genitals that might look different from Daddy's or from other boys in the locker room. If parents have such brainless fear of deviating from the penile norm already, if the normal male penis, uncircumcised already appears monstrous to them, imagine their horror at the sight of a more unusual deviation! A deep anxiety fills them as they ponder what the future holds in store for their little one. When a surgeon steps in and assures them that he can make it all go away, they are relieved, grateful. A flourish of the magic scalpel and no one will ever need to know. Or so the story goes.
Meanwhile, other cultures warmly embrace the idea that gender is non-dualistic, that it has at least three categories (male, female, other) or possibly a whole spectrum. Historically, the berdache (the male who dressed in women's clothes yet had a unique role, separate from traditional women) existed on every continent, in a variety of tribal cultures. So-called civilized nations too had their version of the other-gendered person. In modern India and Bangladesh, one can still be male, female, or Hijra. And occasionally cultures have even sought, through Castration, to manufacture a third gender in the form of the quasi-male or even androgynous Eunuch.
But in modern society, the goal has typically been the reverse – to transform anyone whose gender is ambiguous (psychologically or physically) into one who will readily pass as either male or female – even on their wedding night. The circular argument runs thus, everyone is born either male or female and so those who do not clearly belong to one sex or the other must be surgically altered to do so.
In fact, so ingrained is this philosophy that no newborn may leave the hospital until its paperwork bears the decree (m) male or (f) female. Therefore, if the genitals are ambiguous – that is if their appears to be both penis and vagina (or neither) – the doctors will have to determine, through ultrasound or rectal exam, if the child does or does not have a uterus. If no uterus is found, then it’s on to the gonads – specifically, in their later months in uterus, did they develop into ovaries or into testicles? (Sometimes the gonads will be checked first, but only if they are descended sufficiently as to be external, as with testicles.)
But as straightforward as this may seem (testes=boy, ovaries=girl), the reality is much more complicated. Genetics, hormones, and various "accidents" of birth all work together to affect the gender of the child. While many feel that the ultimate test of maleness or femaleness can be determined by the gonads, or at least by the chromosomes (XX=female, XY=male) there are actually a variety of conditions which confuse the situation. For example:
Klinefelter's syndrome -- A condition in which a genetic male actually has one or more extra X chromosomes (XXY, XXXY). The individual appears anatomically male but would not be male according to XY=boy formula. Neither could such a person impregnate a female, being sterile.
Turner's syndrome -- Condition in which an individual has one X and no Y chromosome, thus they are neither an XY male nor a XX female. In addition, the gonads degenerate before birth. In most respects the person will be anatomically female, however without hormone treatment their will be no secondary sexual characteristics.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (or adrenogenital syndrome) -- In this genetically influenced condition the adrenal glands produce an excess of androgens in uterus. Children who would be classed as female by both their genes (XX) and their gonads (ovarian) will have masculine appearing genitals, to a varying degree. They will also, statistically, have an increased likelihood of forming romantic relationships with women as adults.
Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS, or testicular feminization) -- With AIS, a fetus which is genetically male (XY chromosomes) has receptors which are unresponsive to testosterone and so is born as a female -- at least outwardly. However there is no female reproductive tract.
Partial AIS: -- Individuals with partial AIS will appear feminine at birth, but because they have only a reduced sensitivity to androgens, they may suddenly at puberty develop a more male presentation. The clitoris with enlarge to become a small penis. The voice will drop. Testes will descend. Eventually chest and facial hair may develop.  Mayer-Rokitansky-Kustur-Hauser syndrome -- A condition in which the body of a genetic female does not develop a vagina, cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes.
Vaginal agenesis -- a generic condition, in which the vagina does not develop -- for a variety of reasons, includes MRKH syndrome.  Cloacal exstrophy -- This is a severe congenital malformation of pelvis which can include a male being born without a penis. Even when surgically reconstructed as a girl, males born with cloacal exstrophy generally develop a male identity.
Hypospadias -- A penis is designated hypospadic if the urethral meatus (or pee hole) is located somewhere other than the traditional location -- i.e. the tip of the penis. Instead the hole is located at the base of the penis or somewhere along the shaft. It is a condition which intensifies genital confusion. In that, it causes the penis to resemble a hypertrophic (enlarged) clitoris, making it hard to decide if the individual is a male-appearing female, or a female-appearing male.
Occasionally however it is decided that although the child is biologically male (it has testicles), it should be raised as a female because its penis has been judged too small to useful for sexual penetration. (A condition known as micropenis.) It will be much “better”, doctors will counsel the parents, to remove the testicles and create an artificial vagina. The resultant “female” will never be able to have children, and will need to begin hormone treatments at puberty and for the rest of “her” life -- but at least he will appear normal.
Similarly, the female child whose clit is “too large” must also be surgically remodeled to fit expectations – even though the procedure will most likely leave her unable to ever experience orgasm. But at least everything will look normal.  Interestingly enough, most intersexuals say that the medical intervention they received has made them feel anything but normal. In fact most say that, even as children, surgical intervention made them feel that there must be something monstrous about them, something terrible and unacceptable that had to be remedied by cutting off part of their privates. Furthermore, they are often deeply scarred sexually. The reconstruction surgeries performed upon them in infancy and adolescence, not only remove vital nerve and muscle tissue, but they also leave a deep psychic wound -- a conscious and unconscious sense of deep violation and rejection -- that makes sexual intimacy awkward and painful.
The real source of the problem (besides being raised by parents who were unable to accept them "as is"), is a cultural expectation that is based on the idea that only heterosexuality is normal and desirable. Thus a child born with a penis too small for penetration must be made into a penetratable female -- because the idea that he/he would otherwise receive sexual gratification from oral sex or mutual masturbation was repugnant.
Better to cut off his balls (barring him from any chance of reproduction), and create a pathetic, insensate excuse for a vagina. Regular hormone treatments and now he is a "he". Women with enlarged clits and tiny vaginal shafts get cut down to size and deepened for penetration. Never mind that a large number of such vaginal inventions simply never take. Or those urinary infections will plague the patient for the rest of his/her life. All this in the name of heterosexual ideals.  The irony is that intersexuals don't always follow the blueprint that parents and doctors carve into them. For example, while the feminine hemales of AIS syndrome lust after men, the women so clumsily altered to equip them for penis entry, may simply prefer other women. Many other intersexuals are too burdened with shame and confusion to bother with partners of either gender.
Meanwhile, as intersexuals struggle to heal from the "normalizing" surgeries imposed on them, involuntarily, in their youth, transsexuals -- those who desire gender reassignment -- are jumping through hoops to convince the establishment that they should be able to change from one gender to the other. And while rubbing elbows with transsexuals may embitter intersexuals who receive envying remarks ("You're so lucky -- you had it taken care of for you, as a baby,"), the fact remains that the aggressive push for equal rights from within the gay/transgender communities has had a truly healing impact on many intersexuals. Having grown up believing their status was too shameful even to discuss with parents and physician, many have begun to find their voice and to speak out about the cruel farce inflicted upon them and to demand a more tolerant stance toward intersexual children.

Classification of Hijras:
Hijra sexually handicapped person who is either a hermaphrodite or a eunuch or of     equivocal malformation,      viewed as neither male nor female. A Hijra usually wears the garb of a woman. There are mainly two types of Hijras: one is natural and another is artificial. Medicine and comparative biology classify natural Hijras into six divisions according to their physiological features, sex, and behaviour. Natural Hijras are more or less the same all over the world. But artificial Hijras show characteristics derived from local culture, norms, and social structure and economic conditions.
Some Hijras, called akua are physically male but mentally female. With training and education they may live a normal life. Another category of Hijras is called jenana, who are in fact, normal males. To earn money they take to the life of Hijras in disguise. The chhibry group comprises females who join Hijra society for livelihood. They move with Hijras in disguise. There are also man-made Hijras called chhinni. They are the traditional eunuchs. In the past, these people were used as servants of the members of the harem. Even today they consider themselves to be servants. According to popular belief, Hijras try to swell their group by kidnapping and castrating good looking male children. This assumption, however, is not supported by empirical evidence.

According to respondents, Hijras are of three types. These are:-

A) REAL HIJRA: These are Hijras with no trace of genitalia except for a tiny hole for urination. They can be both flat-chested as well as big-breasted.

B) MALE HIJRA: These are Hijras with a tiny non-erectile phallus. More often than not, they go for a medical operation as having that phallic additive trimmed skyrockets the status of the male Hijras in the Hijra community. Some are said to have small-sized bust.

C) FEMALE HIJRA: These are Hijras who look pretty much like women and are said to have breasts as well as female genitalia. But they do not menstruate. They may also possess masculine traits.

Even though many have pointed out these three categories, some are disinclined to be pigeonholed as ‘male Hijra’. Besides, the third type , according to them , is a rarity in the Hijra community of Bangladesh. In fact the first two types are the most predominant.

Stigmatization and making of their identities

Most of the Hijras live are a story of alienation from family and society. Mutual mistrust: Despite some lingering beliefs that Hijras bring good luck at weddings or after a birth, there's widespread fear and hatred of them. That breeds an aggressive, vulgar streak in the Hijras, and perpetuates a kind of vicious circle of mistrust.

The researcher argued that identifying a social status as a third gender required showing consistent labeling and other linguistic practices in a society that distinguished a class of individuals from both men and women, and attributed them with a constellation of traits comparable to those traits used to define other genders. The presence of mythologies and narratives describing the origins of such roles, as well as rites of passage socially recognized multiple genders.
Hijras as a norm don't marry. Even if they do, it is not legally recognized.  The Hijras--men who dress and act like women--have been a presence in Bangladesh for generations. Within South Asian society they maintain a third-gender role that has become institutionalized through tradition.
Hijras are often defined as eunuchs (castrated males) and acknowledged both in Hindu and Muslim cultures. Numerous references to eunuchs in the royal courts of India's Muslim rulers are cited as the Hijras' legacy. The fact that many don't consider themselves true Hijras until they have undergone the "emasculation operation" links them to this tradition, as do elements of Islamic practice that they observe, such as burying rather than cremating their dead.
Dual-gender figures in Hinduism provide other sources of identification in a religious context. The deity Shiva sometimes assumes the form of a woman; Arjuna in the Mahabharata epic lived as a eunuch during his exile. Both Hindu and Muslim Hijras are devotees of the mother goddess Bahuchara Mata; her temple in the state of Gujarat is one of their cultural centers
The Hijra are shrouded in secrecy. They live apart from the rest of society, appearing only as performers, priest/eases, and beggars. It is difficult to find out details of their personal lives, such as whether they were castrated voluntarily and what their gender identification is. Most of them seem to have an intermediate gender identity that leans strongly feminine.

Many of them seem to have an identity that closely parallels what we would call, a male-to-female transsexual--with the notable exception that. transsexuals do not typically live and work in groups and are not, in principle, restricted to employment as entertainers. Where my country requires all people to belong to one of two sexes, thus encouraging transsexuals to make a full gender transition assimilate, and blend in, in India there is a third sex category to which the Hijra belong. An effeminate or castrated male is placed in this category whether s/he wishes to be third sex or not. Hijras or hermaphrodites are people with ambiguous genitalia. Also called intersexed, hermaphroditism is primarily a medical condition which results from multifarious biological factors. The term ‘intersexed’ is reserved to refer to a somatic condition in which the hermaphroditic person is supposed to posses both masculine and feminine traits.

Nonetheless for the sake of conceptual clarity, it is important to elaborate upon some other associated, though not clearly distinct, terms like transsexual, transvestite and eunuch. Transexuality also known as gender dysphoria is a condition where a person claims to be trapped into the body of the wrong sex. Pretty often, through surgical operations, such persons metamorphose them into the desired gender/sex .On the other hand, transvestiteism is a situation in which a male tends to be attired in the garbs of the opposite sex and vice versa. This emblematizes their hunch for gender crossing. Eunuchs are castrated males.

In cases of gender dysphoria a man’s sex-surgery issues in his being castrated. Besides, transvestitic people especially those with the proclivity to dress as women are similar to many intersexed people who identify themselves as feminine. Eunuchs because of their being castrated experience sexual impotency like many hermaphroditic people. Consequently there is a considerable amount of overlap among these terms.                                                                        However all these gargonistic and notional differences are peppered with reductive and heterosexist nuances and is therefore redundant to the sexually different. They have instead divined an umbrella term "transgender’ to subsume all these diverse categories. However, Hijras of Bangladesh define themselves as people who are neither male nor female. Stigma symbol has constructed their identity. They have no prestige symbols, for this they can not do all the works likes others. They don’t settle in any prestigious position. Their identity is spoiled identity that the researcher mentioned as third gender.  







Hijras are stigmatized people. So like all other stigmatized people they are marginalized. For this they can not share all the social events frequently. So they have to lead their life in different pattern. Usually they cannot mix with general people. So they lived in different community and they have special social system. They have different house where they lived together with other Hijras. They also communicate with all other Hijras all over the country. They have some special symbolic languages which is called as ulti language and religious practices. They have also some ritual during the period of death.

Living arrangement
Family is the micro unit in the society. Usually family members are blood kin relatives but in Hijra family the members of the family is not blood kines. Generally three types of Hijra families are available in Bangladesh.
Hijra Family
Hijras refer to themselves using feminine pronouns and expect others to do so. They typically live together in the traditional commune arrangement of five or more "chelas" (disciples), supervised by a "guruma." When a new chela is accepted into a Hijra household, he assumes not only the guruma's surname but also membership in the guruma's "house," one of seven fictive lineages that confer a sense of kinship and identity, each house having its own history and rules of behavior. He receives training in singing, dancing, and other activities to enable her to earn a livelihood. This types of family is conducted by Hijras. This family is totally isolated from society’s mainstream. Some family is conducted and regulated by “Guruma” and some other by “Chela”. This family are called Guruma or centered and chela centered respectively.
Guruma Centered family
There are ten types of family that are Guruma centered. Guruma is the supreme authority in Hijra family. Guruma takes decisions in every aspects of this family.
There are some ‘chelas’ under a ‘Guruma’ (Type-1)
Sometimes there are few small families in same Hijra house. Different Guruma are presented in different family. (Type-x). If any Guruma did not will his property to any chela only then such type of family may created. In such small family Guruma collected young Hijras from different places. Sometimes Guruma adopt orphan. When this orphan grows up Guruma gives them money for business. When this person married Guruma lived with them. Only ‘John’ Hijras stay in such family (type-II) According to fieldwork there are some Gurumas who lived with male-partner. But when this Guruma became aged this relation is closed. So Guruma then lived alone. (Type-VII). There are some Hijra families in where only two persons lived Guruma and her male partner (Type-III) In some family male partner and some chelas lived (type-VI). Chief chela made another family (type-V). Guruma, chief chela and chela’s lived together in same family (type-IV) Guruma, male partner and poor divorce young women live together in samel family (T-IX) Guruma, didima exist in some Hijra family where chief chela maintain all the things (t-VIII)

Chela centered family
 Talk from aged Hijra it is known that in the past there were no Hijra family withour Guruma.  At present there is some family which is conducted by chela. Generally chela took house in rent and set up a new family. In such family they all eat together. This is called combined family (Type-2.A. II). But in some case Hijras lived alone (T-2.A.I). Some other lived with her male partner. (T.2.A.III). but in some Hijra family chela collect some prostitutes and engage them in prostitution (T.2.A.IV).

Gonica Mashi conducted family
In several brothels in the country this tradition is now running. Gonica mashi       has collected jonn Hijra from several places and brought them in her brothel for prostitution. Because some male want to do anal sex and this Hijras play passive role for this sexual act. (P-1)

Conventional Hijra family                                                                         There are some Hijras who lived with their father, mother, brother, sisters. From fieldwork, it is known to researcher that this Hijras are transvestite or transsexual. For many reason this Hijras are not able to live permanently in Hijra house. They are also a kind of Jonn Hijra. Though they collect money from others their original destination is their blood kin family. The chart below indicates different type of Hijra family.

Guruma and chela
Hijras social life is totally different from mainstream social life. Generally Hijras live together but all of them did not hold same status. In every Hijra house there is a chief who is called the Guruma. Guruma has some another name Malkin, Murubbi, Malkin etc. Guruma is the proprietor of the total property of the Hijra house. Every Guruma has some restricted area where he is all in all from traditional Hijra rule.There are some Hijras under Guruma they are called chela.

The most significant relationship in the Hijra community is that of the guruma (master, teacher) and chela (disciple). When an individual decides to (formally) join the Hijra community, he is taken to visit one of the seven major gurumas, usually the guruma of the person who has brought him there. At the initiation ritual, the guruma gives the novice a new, female name. The novice vows to obey the guruma and the rules of the community. The guruma then presents the new chela with some gifts.

The chela, or more likely, someone on her behalf, pays an initiation fee and the guruma writes the chela’s name in her record book. This guruma-chela relationship is a lifelong bond of reciprocity in which the guruma is obligated to help the chela and the chela is obligated to be loyal and obedient to the guruma. Hijras live together in communes generally of about to seven to ten members, and the heads of these local groups are also called guruma. Hijras make no distinctions within their community based on caste origin or religion, for example, Muslim and Hindu Hijras reportedly live apart (Salunkhe, 1976). In Bombay, Delhi, Chandigarh and Bangalore, Hijras of Muslim, Christian, and Hindu origin live in the same houses.
In addition to the hierarchical guruma-chela relationship, there is fictive kinship by which Hijras relate to each other. Rituals exists for ‘taking a daughter’ and the ‘daughters’ of one ‘mother’ consider themselves ‘sisters’ and relate on a reciprocal, affectionate basis. Other fictive kinship relations, such as ‘grandmother’ or ‘mother’s sister’ (aunt) are the basis of warm and reciprocal regard. Fictive kin exchange small amounts of money, clothing, jewelry and sweets to formalize their relationship. Such relationship connects Hijras all over Bangladesh, and there is constant movement of individuals who visit their gurumas and fictive kin in different cities. Various annual gatherings, both religious and secular, attract thousands of Hijras from all over Bangladesh.Generally three types of chela Hijras in Hijra house All of them did not share the same status. Three types of Hijras are given below: 

General chela
Chief chela
Jonnn Hijra
when any Guruma died chief chela will get all the property of Guruma and he will be the next Guruma. In most of the Hijra house all the works are done by general chela. But in special cases Guruma talk to her chief chela and it’s a continious process in Hijra house. Jonnn Hijras do work in Hijra house in exchange of some cost payments, chief chela knows about the secret of Guruma and her duty is collect the income perfectly from general chela and give it to Guruma.

Generally Hijras did not do any salary oriented job. Traditionally they don’t involve in business. But at present some Hijras are engage in business.

Major occupation
Traditionally the Hijras earn their living by performing at life-cycle ceremonies, such as the birth of a child-formerly only for male children, who
are much desired in Bangladesh, but today sometimes for female children as well and at marriages and they also serve the goddess in her temple. It is because the Hijras are vehicles of the goddess powers of procreation that their presence is necessary on these occasions, when they ask the goddess to bless the newborn or the married couple with prosperity and fertility.

Minor occupation                                       At present some Hijras engage themselves in business, some other involve in smugglings. Some other Hijras are in prostitution who earns their living from prostitution. Few Hijras also now engaging themselves in job (two Hijras now working in Bandhu social welfare society) In Hijra world, they earn of chelas are shared with Guruma but Guruma’s income did not share with chela. The incomes of the chelae are equally distributed among others but the income of the Guruma is never divided. The income of the chelas is also distributed according to area. The bellow diagram shows the percentage of the Guruma and chela income.

Religion and Belief rituals
In Hijra community the religion which researcher found it can be called mixed religion. Because it’s creates a new religion with the mix up of Hindu religion and Muslim religion. Researcher has found three types of religious practices in Hijra community. There are as bellows:

Shrine centered religious notions
Communal deities and their related rituals.
Hindu Muslim religious views.

q     Shrine centered religious notions
Normally Hijras are unable to do traditionally religious practices with other. So they go to the tomp for pray. ‘Pir’ and ‘Shufi’ spread the religion of humanity. So Hijras can go their feely. Its common culture among Hijras to go to the shrine

q    Common deities and their related worship
There were some deities who are their own deities because only Hijras worship them. From doing this they show their difference and exceptionality from others in the society.  The link between the Hindu theme of creative asceticism and the role and power of the Hijras is explicitly articulated in the myths connecting them to their major point of religious identification their worship of Bahuchara Mata, and her requirement that they undergo emasculation. Bahuchara was a pretty, young maiden in a party of traveler’s passing through the forest in Gujerat. The party was attacked by thieves, and fearing they would outrage her modesty, Bahuchara drew her dagger and cut off her breast, offering it to the outlaws in place of her body. This act, and her ensuring death, led to Bahuchara’s deification and the practice of self-mutilation and sexual abstinence by her devotees to secure her favor.

Bahuchara has a special connection to the Hijras because they are impotent men who undergo emasculation. This connection derives special significance from the story of King Baria of Gujerat. Baria was a devout follower of Bahucharaji, but was unhappy because he had no son. Through the goddess’ favour a son, Jetho, was born to him. The son, how ever, was impotent. The king, out of respect to the goddess, set him apart for her service. Bahucharaji appeared to Jetho in a dream and told him to cut off his genitalia and dress himself as a woman, which he did. This practice has been followed by all who join the Hijra devotee in to a closer identification with the female object of devotion.
Identification of the Hijras with bahuchara specifically and through her, with the creative powers of the Mother Goddess worshipped in many different forms in India, is clearly related to their major cultural function, that of performing at homes where a male child has been born. During these performances the Hijras, using sexual innuendos, inspect the genitals of the infant whom they hold in their arms as they dance. The Hijras confer fertility, prosperity, and health on the infant and family.

 ‘Dhol’ puza: Dhol is an essential element in Hijra society. Traditionally when Hijras dancing with new born babies dhol is must necessary there. Because they sing and dance with the rthymic sound of ‘Dhol.’ “Dhol puza” is an annual festival for Hijras. They are doing this on the night of ‘kalipuza’.

Special arrangement had done this night for dhol puza. That night protein was forbidden for Hijras chelas go out from house to buy rice, dhum, candle etc materials for worship. When the worship had finished they enjoy very much and they did not sleep this night.

q    Hindu Muslim religious views
In every Hijra community where Hindu Muslim both lived together, they obey and practice both Hindu religious belief and practices and also Muslim religious beliefs and practices. But they did not practices all the religious practices like other non hijra people, they only practices few. They obey some Hindu saint as well as Muslim saint. Hindu saint like Arabian of Khubagham, kalipuza. In Muslim religious point of view they practices Eid-ul fiter. Eid-ul azha, Ramada etc. in sobabarat night they pray for their past ‘Guruma’
With these practices they showed their exceptionality and difference from others of the society as normal male and female do.




The attraction that the Hijra role holds for some individuals is the opportunity to engage in sexual relations with men, while enjoying the sociability and relative security of an organized community; these advantages are apparent in contrast to the insecurity and harassment experienced by the effeminate homosexual living on his own. But, whether with husbands or customers, sexual relations run counter to the cultural definitions of the Hijra role, and are a source of conflict within the community. Hijra elders attempt to maintain control over those who would ‘spoil’ the Hijra reputation by engaging in sexual activity. While the core of the positive meaning attached to the Hijra role is linked to the negation of sexual desire, the reality is that many Hijras do, in fact, engage in sexual activities.

Hijras as homosexuals
Through it is clear from the field work that some Hijra engage in homosexual activity, there has been controversy over the centrality of this activity in the institutionalization of the role in Bangladesh. In his psychoanalytical study of high castes in a village in Rajasthan, Carstairs (1957) asserted that the Hijra role is primarily a form of institutionalized homosexuality that developed in response to tendencies toward latent homosexuality in India national character. Morris Opler (1960) contested both Carstairs’ evaluation of Indian character and his assertion that Hijra are primarily conceptualized as homosexuals or that they engaged on any sexual activity.

Opler argued that the cultural definition of their role in Indian society was only one of performers. Sinha (1976), who worked in Lucknow in North India, acknowledged their performing role, but treated Hijras primarily as homosexuals who join the community specifically to satisfy their sexual desires. Lynton and Rajan (1974), who interviewed Hijra in Hyderabad, indicate that a period of homosexual activity, involving solicitation in public, sometimes precedes a decision to join the Hijra. Their informants led them to believe, however, that sexual activity is prohibited by Hijra rules and that these are strictly enforced by the community elders. Freeman (1979), who did fieldwork in Orissa at the southern edge of North Indian culture, discusses Hijra as transvestite prostitutes and hardly mentions their ritual roles.

My own data, gathered through fieldwork, confirm beyond doubt that, however deviant it may be regarded within the Hijra community, Hijra in contemporary Bangladesh engage in sexual relations with men. This phenomenon is not entirely modern; 19th century accounts (Bhimbhai, 1901; Faridi, 1899) claim that Hijra were known to kidnap small hoys for the purpose of sodomy or prostitution. Such allegations still find their way into the contemporary popular press (India Today, 1982)

Although Hijra attribute their increased prostitution to declining opportunities to earn a living in their traditional manner, eunuch-transvestites in Hindu classical literature also had the reputation of engaging in homosexual activity the classic Hindu manual of love, the Kamasutra, specifically outlines sexual practices that were considered appropriate for eunuch transvestites to perform with male partners. Classical Hinduism taught that there was a ‘third sex’, divided into various categories, two of which were castrated men, eunuchs, and hermaphrodites, who wore false breasts, and imitated the voice, gestures, dress and temperaments of women. These types shared the major function of providing alternative techniques of sexual gratification (Bullough, 1976). In contemporary India, concepts of eunuch, transvestite and male homosexual are not distinct, and the Hijra are considered all of these at once (O’Flaherty, 1980).

The term Hijra, however which is of Urdu origin and the masculine gender, has the primary meaning of hermaphrodite. It is usually translated as eunuch, never as homosexual. Even Carstairs informants, among whom the homosexuality of the Hijra was will known, defined them as either drum players at the birth of male children, or eunuchs, whose duty was to undergo castration. In parts of North India, the term for effeminate males who play the passive role in homosexual relations in jenanas (woman); by becoming a Hijra, one removes oneself from this category (see also Lynton and Rajan, 1974). Furthermore, a covert homosexual subculture exist in some of the larger cities in North India (Anderson, 1977), but persons who participate in it are not called Hijra. In fact, as in other cultures (Carrier, 1980; Wikan, 1977) men who play the insertor role in sexual activities between men have no linguistically or sociologically distinguihed role. Unlike western cultures, in the names by which Hijra are called, such as kojja, in Telegu (Anderson, 1977) or potee in Tamil, are, unlike the term Hijra, epithets used derogatorily to men a cowardly or feminine male or homosexual. This linguistic defference, however, is consistent with the fact that in South India the jijras do not have the cultural role which they do not in North India.

According to my research, homosexual activity is widespread among Hijra, and teenage homosexual activity figures significantly in the lives of many individuals who join the community. As Sinha’s (1967) interviews also indicate, those Hijra who engage in homosexual activity share particular life patterns before joining the community. Typically, such individuals liked during childhood to dress in feminine clothes, play with girls, do traditionally female work, and avoid the company of boys in rough play. In lower class families, the boy’s effeminacy is both ridiculed and encouraged by his peers, who may persuade him to play the inserted role for them, possibly with some slight monetary consideration. At this stage the boy lives with his family, though in an increasingly tense atmosphere. He thinks of himself as a male and wears male and wears male clothing, at least in public. As his interest in homosexual activity increases and his relations with his family become more strained, he may leave home. In mist cases their families make serious attempts to inhibit their feminine activity with scolding, surveillance, restrictions, and beatings, so that the boy finally has no choice but to leave.

There are two modes of sexual relations among Hijra. One is casual prostitution, the exchange of sexual favours with different men for a fixed sum of money, and the other is ‘having a husband’. Hijra do not characterize their male sexual partners as homosexual; they quite explicitly distinguish them as being different than homosexual. One Hijra, Pinki, characterizes the customers in the following way.

    “… These men … are married or unmarried; they may be the father of many children. Those who come to us, they have no desire to go to a man… they come to us for the sake of going to a girl. They prefer us to their wives… each one’s tastes doffer among people… It is God’s way; because we have to make a living, he made people like this so we can earn.” (Field notes. 2004-5)

    Pinki clearly expressed a feminine gender identity and was, in fact, the person who came closest to what would be called in the west a transsexual that is, experiencing himself as a ‘female trapped in a male body’. She remembered having felt that she was a female since childhood, liking to dress in female clothing, doing woman’s work inside the house and playing with girls rather than boys. She was introduced to homosexual activity in her teens, which she claims ‘spoiled’ her for the normal, heterosexual male role. She has a very maternal, nuturing temperament, and emphasizes the maternal aspect of the guruma role to her young chelas. She is currently involved in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a young man who lives in her neighborhood and whom he hopes will ‘marry’ her. She underwent the exaculation operation because she wanted ‘to become more beautiful, like woman’. She always dressed as a woman and was very convincing in a feminine role, not exhibiting the mire flamboyant mannerisns and gestures of the typical Hijra. Because of her strong attachment to her present boyfriend, she is sometimes criticized by her Hijra friends as having ‘husband fever’. As one of her friends:

Those people, like Pinki, with husband fever, they are mad over their husbands, even to the point of suicide, if that fellow even talks to another girls, immediately they’ll fight with him. If he is out at night, even if it is three o’clock in the morning, they’ll go in search of him. They won’t even sleep till he returns. (Field notes, 2004-5)

This devotion to one man is seen as typical of Pinki’s extremely feminine identification. Not all Hijra who engage in sexual relation with other men express such complete feminine identification. One Hijra, for example, explained the attraction of men to Hijra on different grounds:

See, there is a proverb, ‘For a normal lady [prostitute] it is four annals and for a Hijra it is twelve annals’. These men, they come to us to have pleasure on their own terns. They may want to kiss us or do so many things. For instance, the customer will ask us to lift the legs (from a position lying on her back) so that they can do it through the anus. We allow them to do it by the back (anal intercourse), but not very often. (Field notes, 2004-5)

This statement suggests that the attraction of the Hijra is that they will engage in forms of sexual behaviour in which Indian women will normally not engage. Several of my non-Hijra male informants confirmed this view.
Having a husband is the preferred alternative for those Hijra who engage in sexual relations. Many of my informants have, or recently had, a relatively permanent attachment to one man whom they referred to as their husband. They maintain worm and affectionate, as well as sexually satisfying and economically reciprocal, relationships with these men with whom they live, sometimes alone, or sometimes with several other Hijra. Lalitha, a very feminine looking Hijra in her middle thirties, has had the same husband for nine years. He used to come for prostitution to the Hijra commune in which Lalitha lived and then they lived together in a small house until he got married. Now Lalitha has moved back with the Hijra, where he cooks their meals in return for free food and lodging. But he still maintains her relationship with her ‘husband’;

My husband tells me, ‘I earn enough money. Why do you go for prostitution?’ I tell him, ‘you are here with me today. What surety is there you will be with me forever? I came to you from prostitution, and if you leave me, I’ll have to go back to it. Then all those other Hijra will say, “Oh, she lived as a wife and now look at her fate, he has come back to prostitution. So I tell him, don’t put any restrictions on me; now they all think of me as someone nice, but when I go back to prostitution, they will put me to shame. If he gives me too much bad talk, I give him good whacks.” (Field notes, 2004-5)
Although many Hijra complain that it is hard for them to save money, some have a good business sense and have invested in jewelry and property so that they can be relatively independent financially.

Sexual life of Guruma and chela
In most of the Hijra house both Guruma and chela are engaged in sexual activities.
Sexual life of Guruma
To discuss about Hijras sexual life the talk about Guruma comes first because he is the central figure of Hijra sexual life. Gurumas sexual life depends on her body structure and mentality. In those Hijra houses where Guruma is ‘Jenana’ there he takes a beautiful ‘Chinni’ or ‘Aqua.’  They are usually called as Nagin. In such Hijra house he is the chief chela. During their sexual intercourse Guruma plays active role and nagin plays passive role. Some jenana gurumas are married. They had wife in another place. They are both homosexual and heterosexual guruma do anal sex with such nagin. But some gurumas are only homosexual. Generally Guruma change his sexual partner after few years.

Another type of Guruma are also available in Hijra house. They are chinni or aqua . they try to establihed themselves as women. They get satisfaction by touching males genitals. They inspired males to do anal sex. They are being satisfied in contact with male. They even get satisfaction in genital contact. In their sexual act they play passive partner role and their partner’s plays active partners role. They think their male partner as husband.
Guruma introduce her male partner as brother in front of other. So here gurumas impression management is a vital factor. In front of her male partner he acts like a wife but infront of other person he acts like a sister and in front of other Hijras of this Hijra house he acts like a guruma. So he had to play triple role.
In the Hijra community those male partners are named as ‘Moga’, ‘Minshavor varua.’ But he is called gurumababa to general chela.
Besides of homosexuality heterosexuality also exist in Hijra community. Where chhibry lives in Hijra house there jenana guruma establish sexual relation with chhibry. But this guruma is not only ho osexual but also heterosexual.

Sexual life of chela:
Chela’s sexual life is similar to Guruma. Jenana chela also sexually involve with aqua, chhibry or chhinni. Their sexuality pattern is anal or oral. They live like husband and wife. But it’s a very secret matter. People outside the Hijra community did not know about their sexual life. In front of others they did not want to explore about sexual life. So it’s very difficult for their impression management. They have to prepare property for their behaviour. When behave with outsiders their behavior is normal. But when they act with their sexual partner their behaviour is totally different.

Hijras are engaged in homosexual activities. They have a good demand to homosexual male active partners. All the Hijras did not participate in prostitution. Those who were only passive in homosexual activities only they are able to perform their role as prostitute. At present Hijras are doing this all over the country. But Hijras are not new to this profession. When ‘Magnus Hirschfield’ to come to India in the decayed of thirties he observed that they sit on the balconies by bright lamp light just as the female prostitutes do and they exactly like women. On the street are founts who inform the passerby those eunuchs live in the house.’ (Hirschfield M: 1935)

Guruma is the central character of Hijra prostitution. He engages others to this profession. He receives money from others income. So he maintains this business strictly. When any new Hijra join Hijra community then a special
event and ritual had done by Guruma. A stick or a stone enter into the anus of the new Hijra. This work had done seven to twelve days. When this work had done then they arrange song and dance. In fear that others might know about their activities.

Guruma told that they do it for mainly three reasons. They are as bellows:
1. To remove the fear of anal sex.
2. To remove the pain that occurs each time from anal sex.
3. Make it easier to active male during anal intercourse.

At present prostitution is one of main profession for them. They are now doing this in hotel, their own house and also in the street and park. In their old age, for Hijras who are not particularly talented singers and dancers, or who live in cities where their ritual performances are not in demand prostitution provides an adequate way of earning a living. It is a demanding and even occasionally dangerous profession, however, because some customers turn out to be ‘rowdies’. Although a Hijra living in a commune has to pay 50% of her fees from prostitution to her household head, few of the younger Hijra prostitutes can afford their own place; and living with others provides a certain amount of protection from rough customers and the police. In spite of the resentment and constant complaints by younger Hijra prostitutes that they are exploited by their elders, they are extremely reluctant to live on their own.
A lot of people are now involved with Hijras. Some Hijras have permanent customer. Some Hijras doing this like other female prostitutes. By doing this entire thing Hijras are now targeted as one of most risky group for the transmission of HIV and STD.     From the fieldwork it is known to researcher that Hijras are suffering from many sexual diseases. Their customer did not want to use condoms. Monica 23 years old Hijras told that their customer said “I am giving you money so why I use condom.” Their customer did not feel comfort to use condoms. So now Hijras rapidly affected in HIV, Syphilis, Donovanosis, Gonorrhoea etc diseases. So this procession is now very harmful for them as well as for the people who are involve in such activities.



Hiras are stigmatized group in the society. They by born Hijras or they are living as Hijras. Their identity in the society is spoiled identity. So they can’t lead a normal life like mass people. They can’t share all the social events frequently. It is a crucial factor for them to adapt in the society. So they live apart from non-hijra people in an isolated area. They also have to adapt in their own Hijra community.

Hijras adaptation with in society

Hijras have to adapt in the society in various style. They live in different community. It is isolated from main community people. So but they have to come out from the Hijras community and mix up with mass people for several reasons. For instance their main source of income is in this way they generally go to the marketplace in a group and collect tola (a handful of any item, mostly of grocery), for which they do not pay and receiving money for dancing on the birth of a child or marriage party or even for prostitution they have to come out from their community and frequently share some thing with mainstream people. But in the Hijra community they have a different living style and different language also. So their impression management is a vital factor for them. In back stage when they have in their own Hijra community they have played different role but when in the front stage when they play their in front of non-Hijras people their role is totally different. Their language manner all is different.

Hijras are a stigmatized group, so the future of their life is not as like others. They have no ability for reproduction. They did not join in any kind of job. They can’t lead a married life like other non-Hijra people. So with knowing all this they lead their life. It’s a very hard thing for any one.
Their dual behavior is also made it hard for them. They have different role in their own community and a different role in their own community.
For doing this they have learnt some manners and behaviors how to behave with other non-Hijra people. But their adaptation within the Hijra community is also crucial for them.
Tia a twenty two years old chhinni Hijra. He told that when he was out side the Hijra community people always annoying him. When people knew that he was a Hijra it was difficult for him to stay outside the Hijra community. In his word,” when I go out for a work in a crowd place people who knew that I am a Hijra they always tease me. It was started during the time of puberty when if was fifteen. A since then I was recognized as Hijra. I joined the Hijra community when I was seventeen. One day Guruma bring me here since then I am living with this Hijra house. Now I am a member of this Hijra community. Now I am earning livelihood by collecting money from bazar and also receiving payments from the parents of a new born baby by performing. Now I am well settled in Hijra community.”

Hijras adaptation with in the Hijra community

Hijras adaptation within the Hijra community is also a vital factor for them. No Hijra in the Hijra community live from their birth. They usually came to Hijra community after their puberty. Because after puberty their identification is clear for every one. So after puberty it is extremely difficult for them to live in the society. So then they go to Hijra community. After joining in the Hijra community they had to learn some special rules and regulations. The rules and regulation in the Hijra community is totally different from Bengali society.  A new comer goes there from outside of the Hijra community. Guruma even gives her a new female name. He had to learn dance, song and claps. He had to also learn their special language which named as Ulti language. They had to learn homosexual activities which were not familiar to them before joining in the Hijra community. And some times Hijras homosexuality is causes of their conflicts. Bangladeshi audiences express their ambivalence toward the Hijras by challenging the authenticity of Hijra performers. The Hijras’ emasculation distinguishes them from jenanas, or practicing effeminate homosexuals, who do not have the religious powers ascribed to the Hijras, but who sometimes impersonate them in order to earn a living. Thus, Hijras state that emasculation is necessary because, when they are performing or asking for alms, people may challenge them. If their genitals have not been removed, they will be reviled and driven away as imposters. Hijra elders themselves constantly deride those ‘men who are men and can have children’ and join their community only to make a living from it, or to enjoy sexual relations with men. The parallel between such ‘fake’ Hijras and the false ascetics is clear.
Hijras consider sexual activity offensive to the Hijra goddess, Bahuchara Mata. Upon initiation into the community, the novice vows to abstain from sexual relations or to marry. Hijra elders claim that all Hijra houses lock their doors by nine o’clock at night, implying that no sexual activities occur there. In the cities where Hijra culture is strongest, Hijras who practice prostitution are not permitted to live with Hijras who earn their living by traditional ritual performances. Those who live in these respectable or ‘family’ houses are carefully watched to see that they do not have contact with men. In areas more peripheral to the core of Hijra culture, including most of South India, prostitutes do live houses with traditional Hijra performers, and may, in fact, engage in such performances themselves whenever they have an opportunity to do so.
Sexually active Hijras usually assert that all Hijras join the community so that they can engage in sexual relations with men. As Kamola, a particularly informant, said:
“Why else would we wear saris? Those who you see who are aged now, when they were young they were just like me. Now they say they haven’t got the sexual feeling and they talk only for god and all, but tell you, that is all nonsense. In their younger days, they also did this prostitution and it is only for the sexual felling that we join.” (Field notes, 2004-5)
The Hijra who most vehemently denied having sexual relations with men were almost always over 40. It appears that as they get older, Hijra give up sexual activity. Such change over the life cycle parallels that in India generally; in the Hindu cultural ideal, women whose sons are married are expected to give up sexual activity. In fact, not all women who act in ways that suggest active sexual interest (Vatuk, 1985). The presentation of self as a non-sexual person that occurs with age also appears among the Hijras. The elderly ones may wear male clothing in public, dress more conservatively, wearing white rather than boldly colored saris, act in a less sexually suggestive manner, and take on household domestic roles that keep them indoors.
Although Hijra elders are most vocal in expressing disapproval of Hijra sexual relations, even younger Hijras who have husbands or practice prostitution admit that such behaviour runs counter to Hijra  norms and lowers their status in the larger society. Hijra prostitutes say that prostitution is a necessary evil for them, the only way for them to earn a living. They attribute the frequency of Hijra prostitution to the declining economic status of the Hijra in India since the time of Independence. At that time the rajas and nabobs in the princely states, who were important patrons of Hijra ritual performances, lost their offices. Hijras also argue that in modern India, declining family size and the spread of western values, which undermine belief in their powers, also contributes to their lowered economic position, making prostitution necessary. In the Hijra community the relation between Guruma and chela is a newly thing for new comer. So the new comer has to loyal and obedient to Guruma. After few months the new comer Hijra nicely adapt with the new Hijra community. If he failed to adapt then he goes to different Hijra community. This process is always running between Hijras.`

“I am priya a 30 years old akua Hijra. I joined the Hijras community when I was 19 years old. When I first came to this community it was very difficult form to adapt in the Hijra community. The ulti language and special manner of the Hijras which made me difficult to stay in the Hijra community. When I first familiar with and intercourse. Before this Guruma I had a special training session. In this training he ordered other obedient and loyal chela to insert a stick into my anus. For doing this I was stick after a few mont. After that I never feel pain during anal intercourse. Now I am a part time sex worker. I had been raped by several times by the police man. I have some sexual disease because my clients did not want to use condoms.”



Third gender is used to identifying a social status that required showing consistent labeling and other linguistic practices in a society that distinguished a class of individuals from both men and women, and attributed them with a constellation of traits comparable to those traits used to define other gender.

From all the above discussion it can be said that anatomical defect especially in the genitals distinguish them from others but their identity has made through a process including their attitudes, manners and practices.

For most Bangladeshi Hijras are ‘diabolic creatures’ a fount of diurnal disgust and perennial fear. They are looked at as hapless chimeras bereft of sexual potency. This is evident from the way the word ‘Hijra’ is used in the day -to- day conversations of people. The word Hijra is often found being used to disparage people. The very utterance of the word carries with it an obvious sense of denigration. Unlike India where Hijras are apotheosized by many, in Bangladesh they are a stigmatized, socially marginalized and economically impoverished people. Even the standard dictionaries in Bengali define the term "Hijra ‘in terms of the "politics of pleasure’.  But at Hijras are conscious about their human rights. For this in (2000), a group of Hijras, most of whom are sex workers, formed Bondhon, (‘bond’ in Bengali). This organization engages in a range of activities including HIV/AIDS prevention work, supported by international funding, and campaigning for the human rights of sex workers. They are also allying with other organizations in a lobby for inclusion of the identity intersex on voter identity cards for future elections, which presently specify the voter must be either male or female. At the same time as campaigning for recognition as intersexuals.

Finally it can be said that the situation is changing slowly. Now they are organizing and try to set up their position in the society. As a human being they are also fighting for their recognition in the society.



From this several newspaper report it is known that there are almost 30,000 to 150000 Hijras live in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, most common Hijra para and the name of the Guruma are given below:

No:    Name of Hijra para    Name of Guruma
1.    Dhaka (Tongi)    Jotni Hijrani
2.    Dhaka (Joykali Mondir)    Padma Hijrani
3.    Dhaka    Kali Hijrani
4.    chittagong    Padma Hijrani
5.     Cox’sbazar    Shova Hijrani
6.    Kustia (sadar)    Nabitor Hijrani
7.     Barishal    China Hijrani
8.    Barishal    Saya Hijrani
9.     Naraial    Nazma Hijrani
10.     Jhinadau    Sufia Hijrani
11.     Jasor    Pahari Hijrani
13.     Jasor (Barabazar)    Champa Hijrani
14.    Khulna    Babua Hijrani
15.    Khulna (Doulotpur)    Babua Hijrani
16.     Satkhira    Shibani Hijrani
17.    Pabna    Kamola Hijrani
18.     Rangpur    Nurjahan Hijrani
19.    Rajshahi    Champa Hijrani
20.    Hilli    Parul Hijrani
21.    Kustia (Kumarkhali)    Mala Hijrani
22.    Faridpur    Mala Hijrani
23.    Kustia (Veramara)    Kamola Hijran           


Terms in Ulti language                               Their meaning
(a language used in Hijras community.)
 Onar                        woman’s breast
Akua                        Transsexual and Transvestite
Kott                        Impotent
Kutto                        Brothel
Khogur                    Hijra
Giriga                        Man
Komti                        Hijra
Gor Madia                    leg
Chama chia                    body
Chilka                        baby
Chipti                        vagina
Clais                        love
Chomkano                    dance
Chhinni                    castrated
Chhibry                    woman who lives in Hijra
]chumki                    young girl
Jenana                        male who lives in Hijra community
Tonsa                        slang
Thek                        place of gossiping
Tolchadra                    Paticoat
Takia                        Pilow
Dulna                        boy
Dulni                        girl
Dula                        wife
Damri                        pregnant
Dhurani                    prostitute
Nirkha                    blood
Porka                        dress
Porna                        urine
Paki                        stool
Parik                        husband
Batlibila                    anal
Varua                        male partner of Hijra
Mouga                    person who loves to live with Hijras
Minsa                        male partner of Hijra
Bistara                    bed
Likam                     penis
Zogbila                    hair
Sudda                        father
Suddi                         mother
Kothi                        passive partner
Panthi                        active partner
Khoka                        wine
Bahula                    bride
Lokanti                    death
Loaf                        blade
Lukri                        poor
Nirka                        water
Niki                        breast
Nakmashi                    nose
Luko chorki                    bus
Gonika mashi                chief of a brothel
Guruma                     master or chief of the Hijra house
Chela                        disciple or person who lives with the
chief in a Hijra house.
Jonn                        temporary Hijra who live with her
Nagin                        beautiful Hijra who is the sexual
partner of jenana guruma.
Hijrani-                             cmmon title of the Guruma.


Aziz Kma; Maloney C (1985) Life Stages, Gender and Fertility in Bangladesh. International center for diarrhoeal disease research, Bangladesh.

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Herdt Gilbert (1994) “Third Sexes and Third genders in Herdt gilbert (ed)”, Beyond sexual Dimorphism in culture and History Zone Books, Newyork.

Jeffrey W. (1984) Sexuality, Tavistock Publication Ltd. London.

Khan ZR; Arefeen HK (1989) Potita Nari: A study of prostitution in Bangladesh. Center for social studies.

Mazumdar Ajay; Basu Niloy (1997)”Bharater Hijrah Samaj” Dip Prokashon, Calcutta

May Tim (1993), Social Research- Issues, Methods and Process, Open University Press, Buckingham.

Mckeown, T (1988) The origin of human disease. Blackwell Publihers,

Nanda. Serena (1999) “The Hijras of India: Cultural and Individual Dimensions of an Institutionalized third Gender Role”
“Culture, Society and Sexuality” in Parker R.  and Aggleton Peter (1999) (eds),
UCT. London

Nanada Serena (1990), “Neither Man nor Woman”, Wadsworth Publishing Company, California.

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Spradley James P. (1980), Participant Observation, Library of Congress, U.S.A.

Wikan, Unni (1977), “Man becomes Woman: Transsexualism in Oman as a key to gender roles”.

URL References:
http:// www. Sover.net/~Sharing/gender.html.
http:// allies.tamu.edu/Did%20xou%20know/transgender.htm
http:// www.thingsasian.com/ destination/ about_us.jsp # invest.

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