“Change chahiye Kya ?”

On our way back from Hampi last evening, we had stopped at the toll booth near Bangalore. There were nearly seven lines. Along each line of cars, a transgender (hijada) came and asked for money. Very few people even looked at them, let alone give them some money. When the lady came to our car, Krishnan gave a hundred rupee note and she asked “change chahiye Kya ?” (Do you need change) We said no and she blessed us and our car and went on her way. I had tears in my eyes …. For no fault of hers, she is shunned by the society and reduced to a caricature who has to beg for a living. Interestingly, no one jumped their assigned line and tried to ask for alms from another’s line of cars – “normal” human beings can’t control their urge to rush to where they can get more money.

I know in the north, the tradition is for giving alms to the transgenders during a wedding or at childbirth as their blessings are considered auspicious. In Mumbai you have them asking for money at every traffic signal and most people trying to avoid meeting their eyes. Ofcourse everywhere they are probably forced into prostituting to make ends meet.

Even Arjuna, in the Mahabharata spent a year as a woman, so history does support their existence and India historically has been inclusive of this community.

What are we doing for them now ?? Their sexuality being undefined is not their fault, they don’t get hurt less when they are shunned, and they are a reality. As a society, how do we give them the same opportunities as a regular child, who may afterall grow up to be a molester, criminal, or terrorist.

The western world in a warped sense does provide some opportunity with androgynous models like Andrej Pejic being celebrated, but I don’t see many opportunities in India. What is needed is an equal opportunity to get an education and employment just like a regular child for a transgender. When we speak for the physically and mentally handicapped children, we need to include the shunned and discarded communities like the transgenders who have been handicapped by us, so called normal people.

Pushing things under the societal carpet won’t make them go away and nations that will truly prosper are ones where nothing inconvenient is pushed under the carpet – and yes, we are far, really far from being that kind of nation, but free enough for some of us to hope that one day we will be such a nation. Till then, God bless the transgenders, for the race they belong to, homo sapiens, don’t care 🙁

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