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27 Legal Stud. F. 83 (2003)
Bhartia Hijro Ka Dharma: The Code of India's Hijra

handle is hein.journals/lstf27 and id is 91 raw text is: BHARTIA HIJRO KA DHARMA:
Hijra is the Urdu word for eunuch or hermaphrodite but now means
a born hermaphrodite who dresses as a female or, more commonly, a
born male who undergoes, or plans to undergo, surgical emasculation,
and who dons female garb. Depending on the linguistic region in which
they live, the hijra are also referred to as kinnar or mukhannis. In the
Tamil speaking south of India the term Ali is used to refer to
transvestites, eunuchs, transsexuals and hermaphrodites. The term
zenanas refers to cross-dressing male homosexuals. True hijras lack of
sexual desire clearly distinguishes them from zenana.
For the purposes of this paper, the term hijra will be used to
describe those people who are, naturally or otherwise, or seek to become,
asexual and who dress and live as women, a third gender.' Since the
term hijra also describes a way of life, and one at which a living can be
made, there are those who adopt the pose without the commitment.
Recent attention paid to the emergence of members of the hijra as
players in India's political life2 has brought to visibility a heretofore
* R. Gordon Kean Professor of Law, LSU Law Center.
Since the hijra are the subject of the essay the term will henceforth appear without
A related tradition to the hijra existed, and perhaps still exists in remnant, among
native peoples in the Americas. These were the berdaches, men who assumed the role and
attire generally associated with women. While they have been termed a third gender, not
a default category, there was no tradition of emasculation. See Valdes F. Queers, Sissies,
Dykes and Tomboys: Deconstructing the Conflation of Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation
in Euro-American Law and Society, 83 Calif. L. Rev. 1, 226 (1995).
Sometimes grouped with manitous or spirits, the berdache were sometimes accorded
status as Council advisors and seem to have been more accepted as part of nature's plan
than have been the hijra of India. See David F. Greenberg, Why Was the Berdache
Ridiculed? in Evelyn Blackwood (ed.), ANTHROPOLOGY AND HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR 179-
190 (Binghampton, New York: Haworth Press, 1986)(1985). An analysis of berdache
sexual behavior may be found at D. Duncan & P. Lubin, Follow the Footnote or the
Advocate as Historian of Same Sex Marriage, 47 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1271 (1998), which is
a critique of William Eskridge, A History of Same Sex Marriage, 79 Va. L. Rev. 1419
2 A hijra candidate for office in Pakistan in 1990 was reported in Naqui and Mutaba,
Two Baluci Buggas, a Sindhi Zenana and the Status of Hijras in Contemporary Pakistan,
a chapter in Stephen 0. Murray & Will Roscoe, ISLAMIc HOMOSEXUALITIES: CULTURE,
HISTORYAND LITERATURE (New York: New York University Press, 1997). The struggle of
Bangladeshis estimated 20-100 thousand hijra against all manner of problems, not the
least of which is HIV/AIDS is discussed by M. Khan, A Blessing in Disguise, The Daily
Star (DakhaXSept. 29, 2000).

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