India Recognizes Third Gender

From NPR:

India now has a third gender. The Supreme Court has recognized the country’s transgender community as being in a third neutral category — neither male nor female.

In handing down the ruling, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan said, “Transgenders are citizens of this country … and recognition as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue.”

Progressive legislation! Always awesome — 2 to 3 million people identify as transgender in India — and always uneven, contextual, fascinating. From the Washington Post:

The progressive ruling applies only to eunuchs — or hijras as they are called in Hindi — in India and not to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. In many ways, expanding the rights to transgendered people is far easier than legalizing homosexuality in India. For centuries, eunuchs — called hijras in Hindi — were given a special place in Indian religious epics and parables.

“Granting rights to transgenders is more acceptable to our psyche because we find many transgender characters in our religious, cultural mythologies and literature. Some of our Hindu Gods were of third-gender, some Gods changed their gender seamlessly to perform specific roles and rituals,” said Rose Venkatesan, who transitioned from being a man to a woman four years ago and is a former television host and an independent filmmaker in the southern city of Chennai.

Photo via Nagarjun Kandukuru/Flickr