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History Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences

“Men” Who Would Be Kings: Celibacy, Emasculation, and the Re-Production of “Hijras” in Contemporary Indian Politics

By Gayatri Reddy, 2003

At was a hot summer afternoon in the south Indian city of Secunderabad, where I did my fieldwork among hijras, better known as India’s “third sex” (Nanda, 1999) or “eunuch-transvestites” (Vyas and Shingala, 1987). I was sitting near the railway station with Sujata, one of my hijra friends and talking about her future as well as the future of hijras more generally, when she said proudly, “Within this kaliyug [current cosmic period], hijras will become kings and rule the world. That is what [the Hindu god] Rama decreed thousands of years ago when he blessed us.”

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