Individuals Whose Culture Identifies Them As “neither Man Nor Woman” In India Are Called

The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons

A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, includes their personal sense of the body (which may include, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical, and other means), and other expressions of gender, such as dress, speech, and mannerisms. Those who identify as gender-diverse, including those who express themselves in ways that are perceived to be contrary to the gender norm in a particular context at a particular point in time, are referred to as “gender-diverse”; those who identify as trans are referred to as “transgender,” which is a more specific term that refers to those who identify with a sex other than the one assigned to them at birth are referred to as “transgender.”

A spiral of exclusion and marginalisation

The world’s gender-diverse and transgender communities are subjected to levels of violence and discrimination that are deemed offensive to the human conscience.

  • In a vicious cycle of exclusion and marginalisation, they are frequently bullied at school, rejected by their families, pushed out onto the streets, and denied access to employment
  • When they are persons of color, belong to ethnic minorities, or are migrants, living with HIV, or sex workers, they are particularly vulnerable to violence, including killing, beatings, mutilation, rape, and other forms of abuse and maltreatment
  • And, in order to exercise their right to recognition, they must risk their lives in

When a trans person’s name and sex information on official papers do not correspond to their gender identity or expression, they are more exposed to human rights abuses and discrimination. Currently, however, the great majority of transgender and gender-diverse people throughout the world do not have access to state-sponsored gender recognition programs. A legal vacuum is created as a result of this circumstance, as well as an environment that implicitly encourages stigma and discrimination towards individuals.

This is based on a binary understanding of what constitutes a male and female, or what constitutes the masculine and the feminine, or the masculine and the feminine.

A beacon of hope: depathologization of trans identities

For years, mental health diagnoses have been abused to stigmatize and pathologize different identities and other forms of diversity. In 2017, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health argued that reducing trans identities to illnesses only served to exacerbate stigma and prejudice against transgender people. As part of the eleventh version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which was accepted by the World Health Assembly in 2019, trans-related categories were eliminated from the chapter on mental and behavioural disorders.

It is vital to highlight that pathologization has had a significant influence on public policy, law, and jurisprudence for a long period of time, infiltrating all spheres of state activity across the world as well as the collective consciousness.

Eliminating the notion of some types of gender as a disorder from ordinary life will be a more time-consuming process that will necessitate the implementation of additional measures. States are encouraged to take the following actions:

  • Trans people should have access to high-quality health-care services and health-related information, and the provision of gender-affirming care should be made a legal obligation rather than a condition of receiving a diagnosis. They should also take strong measures to end so-called “conversion theraphy” (conversion treatment).

Read the statement released by United Nations specialists expressing their support for the modification, and check the World Health Organization’s revised International Classification of Diseases.

Legal Gender Recognition, still a distant dream for many

The ability to choose one’s own gender is a fundamental component of one’s identity. It follows as a result that states must ensure that access to gender recognition is provided in a way that is consistent with the rights to freedom from discrimination, equal treatment under the law, personal data protection, identity protection, and freedom of expression. The inability to get gender recognition undermines a person’s identity to such an extent that it results in a fundamental rupture of state commitments.

When states acknowledge transgender people’s gender identification, they frequently place onerous restrictions on them, such as medical certification, surgery, treatment, sterilization, or even divorce in some cases.

The Independent Expert urged governments to enact legislation and implement public policy in accordance with the recommendations issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2015, which state that the process of legal recognition of gender identity should include the following elements:

  • Be based on the applicant’s self-determination
  • Be a straightforward administrative process
  • Be accessible and, to the greatest extent possible, free of charge
  • Not require applicants to comply with abusive medical or legal requirements
  • Recognize non-binary identities (gender identities that are neither “man” nor “woman”)
  • And ensure that minors have access to recognition of their gender identity.

Social Inclusion

States have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to put an end to the ordeal that trans and gender-diverse people are subjected to and to promote their inclusion. States should also consider the following recommendations in addition to the ones listed above:

  • Adopt education policies that address harmful social and cultural biases, misconceptions, and prejudice
  • Address negative and/or stereotypical portrayals of trans and gender non-conforming people in the media
  • Adopt measures to protect trans and gender-diverse children from all forms of discrimination and violence, including bullying
  • And review laws and policies that exacerbate polio in the first place.

Thematic Reports

Gender identification and depatologization are now officially recognized by law (2018) When the Independent Expert presented his report to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2018, he discussed the process of discarding the designation of some types of gender as “pathologies.” It defines the obligation that states have to accept and encourage the respect of gender recognition as a component of identity, as well as the obligations of individuals.

This report also identifies some of the most effective measures for ensuring respect for gender identity, as well as guidance to governments on how to address violence and discrimination against women and girls on the basis of gender identity.

Get the whole report on the legal acknowledgment of gender identity and depathologization of transgender people.

Addressing their social and economic rights is critical to ending violence and discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as other factors.

On the report page, you may read the summary and methodology. Get the complete report on socio-cultural and economic inclusion by completing the form below. View an easy-to-read summary of the report


Make a difference by promoting tolerance and diversity, speaking out against hatred and discrimination in 2019; and leaving no LGBT person behind (2018) The following statement was made in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility (2018.) Accept and defend transgender and gender variant children and adolescents by embracing their differences (2017)

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Press Releases

UN experts applaud efforts to “depathologize” transgender people (2019) Bullying of LGBT youth must be addressed at the state level (2019) On a daily basis, the “vicious cycle of hatred” against LGBT people is re-ignited (2019) Levels of violence against transgender persons “offend the human conscience,” according to the United Nations (2018)

Some communications specific to gender identity – allegations and States’ replies

  • Transgender rights activists in Pakistan have been attacked. -Reply
  • Romania, Proposed bills that would prohibit any discussion on “gender theory or opinion” in educational establishments, 15 December 2020 -Reply
  • Hungary, Proposed bills that would restrict children’s identity to the sex assigned at birth and impose an upbringing that “reflects the values based on Hungary’s constitutional identity and Christian culture,” 12 January 2021 -Reply
  • Responses are due on September 11, 2020. Republic of Korea, No. 12
  • Dismissal of the first openly trans soldier following surgery to affirm her gender identity, 29 July 2020 -Reply
  • Cambodia, Arrest and detention of an online clothes seller and a transgender woman, 1 May 2020 -Reply
  • Hungary, Proposed bill that would make it impossible for trans and gender diverse people to legally change their sex/gender identity, 1 May 2020 -Reply
  • Ukraine, Dismissal of the first openly trans soldier following surgery to affirm her gender identity, Arrest and arrest of a woman human rights activist and a trans guy on April 14, 2020, Egypt On the 17th of December, Honduras, killing and attempted murder of trans women human rights advocates on the 7th of October, 2019, a response was issued. 1
  • Armenia, Death threats against a transgender rights defender following a speech at the National Assembly of Armenia, 18 April 2019 -Reply
  • Egypt, Arrest and detention of a transgender woman and LGBTIQ human rights defender, 20 March 2019
  • Honduras, Attempted murder, harassing, assaulting and death threats, rape and intimidation and persecution against a trans women’s defender and LGBTI human rights defenders, 12 October 2018
  • United States of America 12 February 2018 -Reply
  • Chile, Bill on the right to gender identity that includes discriminatory clauses that perpetuate the stigmatization and pathologization of trans persons, 23 August 2017 -Reply
  • Honduras, Murder of a trans woman and LGBTI defender, 12 February 2018 -Reply
  • 10th of July, 2017
  • On May 26, 2017, three transgender women were killed in El Salvador. There were also acts of harassment and threats, as well as acts of extortion, against one transgender woman human rights advocate.
Search all communications and States’ replies in thedatabase.Read about the communication procedure onOHCHR webpage._The Yogyakarta Principleson the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity (2006).
Special Procedures About Special Procedures Submitting complaints About country visitsIndependent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity Overview Mandate International standards Annual thematicreports Country visits ActivitiesRecent thematic reportsGender theory (2021) Impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons (2020) So-called “conversiontherapy” (2020) Social, cultural andeconomic inclusion (2019) Data collection and management (2019) Legal recognition of gender identity and depathologisation (2018) Overview of violence and discrimination (2018) Diversity in humanity, humanityin diversity (2017) Decriminalisation and anti-discriminationmeasures (2017)Issues in focus The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons COVID-19 Effective inclusion of LGBT personsContact informationVictorMadrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identityOHCHR-UNOG8-14 Avenue de la Paix1211 Genève 10, SwitzerlandFax: (+41) 22917 90 06E-mail:[email protected]@ohchr.orgPersonalsocial media of the Independent Expert:FacebookInstagramLinkedInTwitterOthers involved OHCHR and thehuman rights of LGBTI peopleExternal Links FreeEqual:United Nations for LGBT Equality

12.3: The Gender Binary and Beyond

As previously said, anthropologists are passionate about upending preconceived assumptions of what is “natural” and “normal.” In many civilizations, there is a prevalent notion that human beings are divided into two and only two genders, which is known as a dualistic or binary model of gender. On the other hand, in certain cultures, gender is more fluid and adaptable, allowing persons born as one biological sex to assume the biological sex of a different biological sex or generating more than two genders from which people can choose.

  1. Anthropologists such as Ruth Benedict have long recognized the existence of a fairly prevalent phenomena known as “two-spirit” persons, which refers to individuals who do not easily fit to the traditional gender roles and gender ideology associated with their biological sex.
  2. When a two-spirited Zuni man performs labor or wears attire that is traditionally associated with women, it is because he has demonstrated an early predilection for female-identified activities and symbols.
  3. The term “homosexuality” was frequently used in early European ethnocentric accounts to define it.
  4. Most crucially, these alternate gender roles were considered acceptable, were publicly acknowledged, and were even revered in some circles at the time.
  5. There is less information available on the various gender roles accessible to biological women, however legends of “manly hearted ladies” hint that there may be a parallel among some Native American cultures.
  6. Other legends claim that Kutenai women have assumed male gender roles as well.

These individuals, often referred to as “athird gender,” are typically biologically male but dress, gesture, and use names that are more feminine; they avoid sexual desire and activity; and they participate in religious rituals that grant them certain divine powers, such as blessing or cursing couples’ fertility and performing at weddings and births.

Several hijra are guys born with ambiguous external genitals, such as a penis that is unusually tiny or testicles that have not entirely descended, among other things.

Individuals with ambiguous genitals, sometimes known as “intersex,” have been shown to be surprisingly widespread, according to research.

The question then becomes, what should societies do when confronted with a newborn or youngster who cannot readily be “sexed?” A number of cultures, including several in the United States, used to push youngsters into one of two binary categories, regardless of whether or not it need surgical intervention or hormone therapy.

These cross-cultural comparisons reveal that the old strict binary gender paradigm prevalent in the United States is not ubiquitous nor essential in all situations.

Other cultures enable individuals to assume a gender role that is incompatible with their biological sex without facing repercussions for doing so. In short, when it comes to gender roles, biology does not have to be destiny, as we are increasingly discovering in the United States.


When it comes to the meanings and practices connected with being male or female, even countries that have a binary gender system demonstrate a great deal of variation. In some cases, male-female distinctions permeate virtually all aspects of life, structuring space and time as well as work and social interactions, communication, body decoration, and expressive forms such as music. For example, both sexes may farm, but they may have separate fields for “male” and “female” crops, as well as crop rituals that are specific to each gender.

  1. Women and men can also have religious rites and deities that are particular to their gender, as well as employ equipment that are special to their gender.
  2. When it comes to gender ideology, they might highlight differences in character, abilities, and morals, sometimes depicting men and women as “opposites” on a moral spectrum.
  3. When it comes to ceremonial situations, female physiological fluids like as menstrual blood and vaginal secretions might be potentially hazardous, harmful to men, considered “impure,” and “polluting.” Menstrual blood, on the other hand, is connected with good power in other situations.
  4. Men in some small-scale civilizations go through ritualized nose-bleeding, which is referred to as “male menstruation” despite the fact that the connotations of the term are ambiguous.
  5. Men and women have historically been divided in space and “marked” in various ways in virtually all major global religions dating back thousands of years.
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  1. Information about alternate gender roles in pre-contact Native American tribes may be found in the book A World Full of Women by Martha Ward and Monica Edelstein (Boston: Pearson, 2013). For more information, see the 2011 PBS Independent Lens documentaryTwo Spirits, which provides an account of the role of two-spirit ideology in Navajo communities, as well as the story of a Navajo teenager who was targeted for a hate crime because of his two-spirit identity. Also see Martha Ward and Monica Edelstein’s A World Full of Women for more information. Gayatri Reddy and Serena Nanda, “Neither Man nor Woman: the Hijras of India,” in Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by C. Brettell and C. Sargent, 278–285
  2. Serena Nanda, “Neither Man nor Woman: the Hijras of India,” in Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by C. Brettell and C. Sargent, 278–285
  3. And Seren (Upper Saddle River New Jersey: Pearson, 2005). A World Full of Women (Martha Ward and Monica Edelstein), 99
  4. Beverly Chinas, personal contact with Mukhopadhyay
  5. Janet S. Hyde and John D. DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (99)
  6. For more information on Isthmus Zapotec women, see her publications such as Beverly Chinas, The Isthmus Zapotecs: A Matrifocal Culture of Mexico, and others (New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers 1997). See the film Blossoms of Fire, directed by Maureen Gosling and Ellen Osborne, for more information about this culture (San Francisco: Film Arts Foundation, 2001). Gilbert Herdt’s Sambia is a good example (New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 2006). See Gilbert Herdt’s film, “Guardians of the Flutes,” for an outstanding example of this (London UK: BBC, 1994). More information about the Nu shu writing system may be found in the film Nu Shu: A Hidden Language of Women in China (New York: Women Make Movies, 1999), as well as in Ernestine Friedl’s book Women and Men: An Anthropologist’s View (New York: Women Make Movies, 1999). (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975). Consider the works of Audrey Richards,Chisungu: A Girl’s Initiation Ceremony Among the Bemba of Zambia(London: Faber, 1956), and A. Richards,Land, Labour, and Diet in Northern Rhodesia, An Economic Study of the Bemba Tribe(London: Oxford, 1939).

India’s Relationship with the Third Gender – UAB Institute for Human Rights Blog

Simran, a 30-year-old woman from Mumbai, goes through Bandra, asking tourists for money so she can pay her Guru. Sara Hilton photographed this scene for The New York Times. What is the meaning of the Third Gender? A third gender was officially acknowledged by India’s Supreme Court in April 2014, when it issued a formal ruling. In India, there is no official meaning for the term “third gender.” A transgender person is someone who does not identify as either male or female and so does not identify as either man or woman.

  1. Hijras, like members of the LGBT community, have been singled out by law enforcement and government authorities under Section 377 of the Criminal Code.
  2. What Is the History of the Third Gender in India?
  3. Although the Hijra have been the target of a great deal of hatred and prejudice in recent years, this has not always been the case for the community.
  4. In reality, Hijras play significant roles in a wide range of Hindu religious literature.
  5. Lord Rama was expelled from his realm at some time during his reign.
  6. All of the men and ladies had fled the building.
  7. Despite the fact that they were neither male nor female, they refused to go until Lord Rama returned fourteen years later.

In Mughal-era India, Hijras also held positions of religious authority, as well as prominent court posts and administrative responsibilities.

When the Hijras lived in ancient India, they were a group that was respected for being highly faithful, and they were trusted enough to be entrusted with major religious and administrative positions.

In light of the fact that the Hijras played an essential part in ancient Indian civilization, why are the Hijras marginalized and persecuted in contemporary India?

The explanation may be traced back to the British colonization of India in major part.

This was done by the enactment of moral regulations that prohibited everything that western culture considered to be unclean or nasty.

Starting in 1858 and through until the most recent ruling on September 6, 2018, Section 377 has been used to justify the mistreatment and punishment of Hijras, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

It was necessary to expel the Hijra community from its well-respected position as pillars of religious and governmental society in order for them to become social outcasts.

Because of the negative connotations associated with Hijras, they are more likely to be economically disadvantaged.

What are the social, economic, and medical issues that are exacerbated by persistent social stigma?

There is a legacy of subjection left by many decades of oppression across generations.

Although there have been several public relations operations and an increasing number of sympathizers, the great majority of Indians remain strongly opposed to Hijras.

Hijras are frequently requested to attend auspicious ceremonies like as weddings and childbirths in order to bestow blessings.

In spite of this, the vast majority of Hijras are compelled to beg for money since they are prohibited from most work options as a result of pervasive prejudice.

Because of a lack of workplace safeguards and discrimination legislation that are neither broad or well-enforced, open employment discrimination has become widespread.

For infractions such as begging, prostitution, and having gay sex, many police officers have incarcerated and imprisoned members of the Hijra community in the past.

Nonetheless, despite their inability to obtain job, Hijras are targeted even more harshly for attempting to live in a society that has institutionalized, promoted, and fostered detrimental practices toward their people from the period of the British colonization.

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There have been several incidents of medical malpractice committed against Hijra people, which is regrettable.

Researchers discovered that most doctors are not informed on gender identity issues, and that a transphobic stigma is well embedded in the minds of medical professionals, which is to blame for the lack of competent medical treatment provided to Hijras in the first place.

Saikat was a transgender patient who died as a result of a lack of medical attention after being involved in a train accident.

When Anushi was attacked by numerous guys, she went to the hospital to seek medical attention.

She was even denied access to anti-HIV drugs.

In addition to the everyday persecution and prejudice they face, Hijra individuals are at risk of bodily damage and even death at the hands of bigoted physicians and nurses who are not prepared to deal with matters of gender identity and sexual orientation.

In addition to societal anxieties, healthcare practitioners have been hesitant to treat Hijra persons due to the possibility of being prosecuted under Section 377 of the Criminal Code.

Individuals have been detained solely for the purpose of distributing condoms to Hijra and LGBT people, according to reports.

HIJRA patients bring doctors anxiety because they are uninformed and believe in multigenerational societal stigmas, according to doctors.

The Hijra community will continue to suffer as a result of this poisonous mutual mistrust.

Sara Hylton captured this image for the New York Times.

There have been several recent victories that have benefited the Hijra community.

Many types of discrimination against Hijras were made unlawful by the statute, which also prohibited forcing Hijras to beg or leave their homes.

It also allows for Hijras to be classified as socially and economically disadvantaged, so qualifying them for benefits under India’s Affirmative Action program.

Hijra persons must go through a district screening procedure before they may acquire their third gender certification and identification cards.

In 2014, the Supreme Court issued a historic ruling that formally acknowledged the existence of a third gender, which was also a significant event.

The judgment also represents a recognition of the Hijra community’s existence by a government that has worked to marginalize individuals who aren’t cisgender for a long time.

Third gender IDs, while driven by noble aspirations, fail to address a number of fundamental rights.

This implies that Hijras are unable to marry, to leave property to their children, or to adopt children who are in dire need of loving families while being legally recognized and identifying as the third gender.

The court ruled that the Right to Privacy was a basic right that applied to all persons and adopted legislation to preserve the privacy of Hijras’ sexual orientation information.

The Hijra community has gained acceptance and integration in society as a result of legal victories as well as social acceptance and integration.

A number of landmark events took place in India, including the appointment of the first Hijra police officer in Tamil Nadu, the crowning of Natasha Biswas as India’s first third-gender beauty pageant winner, and the establishment of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd., the country’s first government-owned company to provide bulk employment to Hijras.

There is optimism that the societal stigmas that have afflicted the Hijra group will be completely eliminated in the not too distant future.

For many years, widespread social stigmatization and prejudice against this people were encouraged and fostered.

However, if legislative efforts and public relations campaigns are maintained, India may one day be transformed into a society that completely accepts and supports all individuals, regardless of their sexual or gender orientation or gender identity.

24 November 1999

AUDIENCE IN GENERAL The 17th of November, 1999, was a Wednesday. Greetings, Brothers and Sisters1. For example, I called attention to the subject of respect for women’s rights in my ApostolicLetter Tertio millennio adveniente, a challenge of our historical moment on which we are called to reflect as part of the Great Jubilee of the Church (cf.Tertio millennio adveniente,n. 51). As we approach International Women’s Day, I’d want to bring to your attention certain areas of the women’s question that I’ve touched on previously.

‘God made man in his own image, God formed him in God’s likeness,’ the first verse reads.

Essentially, this statement is the core of Christian anthropology, because it establishes the ground of man’s dignity as a person in his creation “in the image and likeness” of God.

Both are considered to be God’s masterpieces.

This woman is given a name that has a verbal assonance in Hebrew that denotes a relationship to man (issah/issah).


It is reasonable to celebrate that in modern culture, meditation on what it means to be feminine has resulted in a more comprehensive view of the human being in terms of his “being for others” in interpersonal communion, which is a positive development.

Unfortunately, on a practical level, it is frequently overlooked or ignored.

Women’s freedom and femininity must be forcefully protected against all acts that violate these values, including so-called “sexual tourism,” the buying and selling of young girls, mass sterilization as well as any other type of aggression against the other sex.

Introducing biblical anthropology of relationality is more important than ever now because it allows us to more fully comprehend the human being’s identity in his or her relationships with others, notably in the connection between man and woman.



It is, in truth, an issue of distinguishing the Father’s face inside the mystery of God as Trinity, that is, as perfect unity in distinction, rather than as perfect unity in oneness.

Jn1: 1), and in his relationship to the Holy Spirit.

Gal4:4), which also provides light on the feminine dimension by demonstrating Mary as the paradigm of woman as desired by God.

God the Father’s paternity is linked not only to God the Son in his timeless mystery, but also to God the Son’s Incarnation in a woman’s womb, as the Bible teaches.

The Gospel narrative about God’s paternity, rather than limiting the dignity and position of women, serves instead as a guarantee of what the “feminine” represents in human history, namely, the ability to welcome and care for the human being, as well as the ability to give birth to new life.

Ultimately, all of this is grounded in the mystery of the everlasting divine “begetting,” in a transcending fashion.

But it represents that everlasting reciprocity and relationality that is genuinely Trinitarian and that is the source of both fatherhood and motherhood as well as the foundation of all the riches that are shared by both man and female in the universe.

It inspires us to put up even more effort so that all of the possibilities that are suited to women in the Church and in society can be recognized.

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