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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Third is no consolation


All Things Bright And Beautiful, All Creatures Great And Small, All Things Wise And Wonderful, The Good Lord Made Them All! The plight of the third gender reminds Ravi Inder Singh of our conveniently forgotten morning prayer from school…
RAVI INDER SINGH | Issue Dated: August 29, 2010
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Third is no consolation “It happened roughly 35 years back when my best friend’s (Santosh) father, a senior insurance agent at a reputed insurance agency, broke the news of Santosh’s wedding. She was about to be married into a very reputed business family. The match was perfect and the ceremonies were underway. Right after the grand pomp and show, as is the wont of an Indian wedding, Santosh was on her way to honeymoon. We were eagerly awaiting juicy tales of romance upon her return. Instead, Santosh came back with swollen eyes – as if she had cried her eyes out – and a scratched face and injuries all over her back. On much prodding, she revealed it was no accident, but she had been beaten up by her husband. Reason? On that much anticipated night when the wedding was supposed to be consummated, she found out that her husband wasn’t a male, but a eunuch! Appalled and cheated that she rightfully felt, her angst at the fact being hidden from her and the family was met with brutality. To my horror, the family, other than Santosh’s mother, wasn’t supportive at all. And to top it, she was asked to resume a ‘normal’ life with the ‘man’ she had been married to. 35 years later, Santosh works in a bank, earns for herself, also supports her ‘husband’, who now has been disowned by his own family too and tries her level best to keep up with the pseudo values and the social pressure that existed at the time of decision making,” recalls Anita of her friend Santosh, requesting anonymity for both of them.

Transgenders or eunuchs, as they are known, are human beings who are born with a genital abnormality. They have deformed male or female reproductive organs, or under-developed ones, or both. This tragic aberration of nature slots them as the ‘third gender’. Homosexuals have fully developed genitals; it is hypothesized that it is hormonal play that induces feelings for the same sex, while the third gender has to contend with the physical shortcoming as well as hormonal hysteria. While the gay community is finding increasing acceptance in our society today, transgenders are still looked askance at. Violence and repulsion are the mainstays of their world; eunuchs are forced to move and live in groups because of this. Not only are they supportive of each other, they look out for each other too and also try and adopt young ones who are unfortunate enough to have been born this way. Legally, they aren’t allowed to take away new born eunuchs from the hospitals, but small nursing homes do as do parents. It is after all not easy to withstand the prejudices of a society looking to pick on you day in and day out, particularly in the less affluent sections. Third is no consolation One can imagine the deep-rooted bias when a eunuch is not allowed to donate blood by a doctor. If supposedly well-educated folks behave this way, what to say of others? Dr Vinant Bhargava, Physician, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital was understandably moved. “It is hard to believe that a qualified doctor would do that. I would like to clarify to the people that apart from a slight physical deformity, there is nothing different between a eunuch and a normal man/woman’s constitution. The blood in the human body is same for one and all. Not knowing the details of the case in question, I would say that the only reason why a qualified doctor might refrain from accepting a eunuch’s blood is that they are high-risk candidates as most of them are involved in prostitution on account of lack of livelihood opportunities,” he says.

Prostitution isn’t the only refuge; some others are beggars, many earn through dancing at celebrations etc. It’s hard to understand why avenues are so severely limited for the third gender, when other differently-abled or physically challenged individuals have opportunities beckoning. Quite a few transgenders enroll themselves for distance learning courses and have basic education; some have technical skills too. Is there scope for them in the corporate sector? “Their plight is understandable and I’m sure they could do well in backend operations of any organisation or at least data entry. Even if there is an issue making them the representatives of the company or the face of an organisation, there are certain profiles which do not need gender discrimination. It is usually the recruiter’s bias at work. Growth prospects are shallow and networking and bonding that happens in and after office hours may be restricted,” comments a senior HR employee in a leading MNC.

Hope is certainly alive for the community, at least in some parts of the world. The US government, for example, supports transgender sex change operation, helping him/her to lead a normal life. It is time that the Indian scenario changes and the concerned authorities take notice. The Vice Chancellor of the National Law School University of India, Bangalore, Prof. R. Venkat Rao believes that for any reform, there’ll be plenty of resistance. He says, “I will propose that a column for transgenders be included in the admission form. Though the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) committee will need to approve of it.”

In Santosh’s case, it is difficult to say who of the two partners has a more difficult life. Only if the rest of us create a little space for our fellow beings, the world would be a better place to live in and no one would have to find themselves in such trying circumstances.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017