16 April 2014

A Third Gender In India

Quite possibly the most revolutionary piece of legislation regarding gender identity and expression was passed two years ago in Argentina.  In essence, it says that any Argentinian aged 18 or older can live as whichever gender he or she chooses. It also authorized doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals to provide the necessary care for those who chose not to live in the gender to which they were assigned at birth.  And, for those who couldn't afford those treatments and therapies, the government would foot the bill.

Now something arguably as radical--or, perhaps even more so--has happened in India.  A couple of days ago, that country's Supreme Court ruled that transgenders are a third gender.  So, for starters, all official forms must allow for trans people to indicate their gender as such, just as males and females check off the boxes that correspond with their sex.  It also allows transgenders to receive government benefits and partake of the social programs to which the rest of the country's citizens are entitled.

On one hand, I am pleased with this development.  Although I identify as female, and would continue to do so even if I were offered the option now available in India, I do not believe that people should be bound to the gender binary if they feel it's inappropriate for the way they identify and express themselves.  

On the other hand, given India's history with transgender people, this development could be troublesome.  I am thinking specifically of the hijra, who are both venerated and stigmatized in the subcontinent's cultures.  

Traditionally, hijras lived outside of the gender norms of Indian society and were believed to have special spiritual (and paranormal) abilities cisgenders don't have.  So, they were often called upon to officiate at weddings, funerals and other ceremonies and to cast, or cast away, spells.  But, even with such a status--which, for the most part, they've lost as India has become more influenced by the West--they were still very poor and begged or even engaged in sex work.   To this day, people give them money simply because they don't want to take the chance that a spurned hijra will send some dark enerty their way.

Given such a history, I have to wonder whether India's new ruling might actually further stigmatize the hijra, as well as other trans people.  I can't help but to think about a trans woman who was a hijra in India and was seeking asylum here.  From what she told me, even though some people still believe hijras have special powers, they can be killed with little or no penalty to those who kill them.  And, according to this trans woman (who will remain nameless, for obvious reasons), many men in her native country "accept" trans people insofar as they can use us sexually, or simply as lurid curiosities.

I guess time will tell what how the Indian Supreme Court's ruling will affect the lives of trans people. 


Steve Finnell said...


Why do men fictionalize Scriptures rather than reading them and believing them? I will let you reach your own conclusion as to the answer. What is is purpose of water baptism according to Acts 2:38?

1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and each of you bebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (New American Standard Bible)

2. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible New International Version 1983)

3. Acts 2:38 The Peter said unto them,Let each of of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ) The Better Version of the New Testament by Chester Estes)

4. Acts 2:38 Peter told them, "You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips)


1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven. (Fictional Account)

2. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a testimony of your faith. (Invented Version)

3. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized as an act of obedience. (Fantasy Translation)

4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because you were forgiven the minute you believed. (The Version of Unfounded Truth)

5. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized with Holy Spirit baptism; because water baptism is not a New Covenant requirement. (The Version of Spurious and Erroneous Quotes)

6. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, for the forgiveness of sins; but water baptism is optional, because the thief on the cross was not baptized in water. (The Counterfeit Version of Truth)

7. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Rent and be baptized in order to join denomination of your choice. (The Creed Bible By Men)

8. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a symbolic jester, pointing to the fact that your sins were forgiven when you said "The Sinner's Prayer." ( The Book of Stuff Men made-up)

9. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized to indicate the outward sign of the forgiveness you received the very minute you believed. ( The Fabricated Book of Fantasy Verses)

10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and have your committed sins forgiven by faith only. And then be baptized to be forgiven of the sin Adam committed. (The Denominational Revision of Fictional Truth)



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Justine Valinotti said...

Steve--I respect what you're saying. I'd love to know the source(s) of those "fictionalized" and "fantasy" versions of the Acts verse you quoted.

However, I really don't understand how your comment relates to this post or, for that matter, much of anything on this blog. Perhaps you could explain. You see, I never refused baptism: I was baptized when I was only eight days old and had no say in the matter.

One more thing: Why do you write entirely in capital letters? It makes it seem as if you're screaming. I can read (or hear) your message quite well without the amplification.