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Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences

Hijras: the unique transgender culture of India

By Gurvinder Kalra, 2012

Indian society has been tolerant of diverse sexual identities and sexual behaviors as is evident from its mythologies and ancient scripts like the Kamasutra. The transgendered hijra community has evolved to form a unique subculture within Indian society, existing alongside the ubiquitous heterosexual family. This subculture has been clandestine about its customs and lifestyle, but the scene is changing. Although awareness about HIV-AIDS issues in this community is increasing both among the community members and the health professionals, the same cannot be said about mental health issues. This article highlights some of the important aspects of their lives such as their social structure and attaining of Nirvan (emasculation, not to be confused with nirvana) that may be important for the mental health professionals working with such individuals and highlights the dearth of research data regarding the same.

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