Video by Avani Tanya

The transgender community has been of great prominence in Indian mythology and culture. In the last few centuries, their position in society has seen a massive decline. The colonial British influence is held responsible for the change in their social status, meaning they have lived on the fringe of Indian society since. They are ostracized from the community and harassed by both the police and the public. Most are forced to make living by begging and prostitution since they are not given any jobs. In a landmark ruling, on April 14th, the Supreme Court of India has ordered a directive to recognize transgender people, as the ‘third’ gender and ordered the Government to allocate public sector jobs to transgender people to and include them in welfare programs.

Though it is believed that this is a huge leap for the country towards equality and gender sensitivity, a large section of transgender women also believe that this only increases discrimination.

“When I was 14, I chose to become a woman from a man. I am still fighting to be accepted as a woman. I want to build a respectable livelihood as one. I don’t want to be a “other” gender person.” says Pavithra, 32.

Lack of work turned her towards begging. She is listed as Female on her Voter’s ID and doesn’t want to change it to ‘Others’. She says, ‘It takes away my identity.’ On the eve of elections in Bangalore, they hope that by voting for their chosen candidate, an honest and good-hearted person is elected. They pray for a leader who will aid them and their community to begin living with dignity.

Even though India has now taken steps to recognize the transgender community, homosexual intercourse was re-criminalized under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2012.

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