Huge news today for non-binary and transgender individuals in India: Indian court ruled today that they would recognize a third gender, or hijras.
For the first time this year, India allowed a third choice on voter registration forms, labeled “other.” According to ABC News, about 28,000 people selected that box, rather than male or female.
The gravity of this is absolutely enormous, although India is not the first country to recognize a third gender. In fact, the name hijra and the concept of these people is not at all new. Hijras, as they pertain to the Hindu religion, are represented by the goddess Bahuchara Mata. There are other gender variant gods in Hinduism as well.
So, should we place bets on the number of “just a phase” arguments thrown around now?
Overall, unfortunately, India still isn’t the shining example of equality. India wavers on gay and lesbian topics, having recently reinstated a ban on gay sex that had been overturned four years ago.
Although Ohio University is a small sample size, I usually feel like students here are well-informed of LGBTQ advances. I’ve heard and seen very little about this milestone. I might not have known about it until my gender studies professor brought it up–which is terribly troubling. I think we’re seeing, once again, the successes of the LGB community outshine and drown out the successes of the T and Q communities. Had gay marriage been legalized in whatever country, I’m sure it’d be a story shared all over my Facebook and Twitter. It’s happened before.
Don’t get me wrong, the support of the gay community is wonderful. It’s empowering. It’s uplifting. But we should also be throwing our weight behind the trans and non-binary communities and helping to empower them as well. India has recognized a third gender. That’s exciting. I’m excited. You should be excited. So when do we get to see this in the United States? You know, the Land of the Free? Liberty and justice for all?
You go, India. This is a huge step in gender equality and a huge step for the world. Hopefully more countries will follow in the path of the Indian Supreme Court and give our non-binary and transgender siblings the love and equality that they deserve.