Two Comments Made re Hijra
on the ANDROGYNE List

Comment 1

[The following can also be read at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ANDROGYNE/message/291 :]

Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 12:23 AM
From: "Sophia" <gallae@geocities.com>
Subject: [ANDROGYNE] Re: "In the Beginning: Katoey in Northern Thai Creation Mythology"
To: <ANDROGYNE@yahoogroups.com>

Thank You for this reference, Stephe!

I have been looking for information on eastern transgender traditions. Do you know of others? Outside of the Hijra of India, I was not aware of literary references of any unbroken eastern hemisphere traditions. Although there may be. Perhaps some other ancient transgender traditions have contemporary survivors underground?? BTW, if not already identified elsewhere in this archive, you may find Serena Nanda's work with the Hijra of interest:

Nanda, Serena, Ph.D, Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijra of India,
Wadsworth Publishing Co, Belmont, CA, 1989.  ISBN 0-534-12204-3
(paperback)
Very interesting reading. I believe there may be some western practitioners of their tradition around somewhere. But to be fully empowered by the Goddess as a Hijra, one must undergo the surgery they call, "Nirvan", by a Hijra midwife after following a yogic path of preparation. But, according to Serena Nanda's description of the way it is done, you would not have any tissue left to speak of if you would like a modern vaginoplasty performed afterward. Incidentally, the initiates who described their "Nirvan" experience said the pain they experienced was no more than "a small pinch" or "an ant bite". And they use no pain killers, herbal or otherwise.

-Sophia

ANDROGYNE is a list for people interested in the study of the mysteries and the spiritual traditions that celebrate androginy in different ways, and about queer deities. It is mostly, but not exclusively for queer individuals. The main purpose is to put together resources for those interested in reclaiming their own spiritual traditions.

You may submit poetry, stories, imagery, or ritual of your own, or from others (as long as you cite your sources) to twospiritsaadaya@hotmail.com.

http://www.angelfire.com/journal/saadaya
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ANDROGYNE

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Comment 2

[The following can also be read at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ANDROGYNE/message/315 :]

Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 15:51:45 -0500
From: "THOMAS A HODGES" <tomstarseed@primary.net>
Subject: [ANDROGYNE] SOME OTHER COMMENTS ABOUT THE "HIJRA" TRADITIONS IN INDIA:
To: <ANDROGYNE@yahoogroups.com>

Dear Androgyne Members:

I am adding some comments about the HIJRA traditions in India. Upon reading the first posting of the HIJRA, I sent a forward to a very close and dear friend of mine who visited the country of India earlier this year. Below is his comments to the original posting of the HIJRA article. Can we believe everything we see in print or on a web site?

A good deal of the world's culture is based upon inhumanity, from one human to another. Those of us who live in the United States and other more developed countries perhaps don't know the real truth about some traditions. For example the beautiful oriental carpets that are sold world wide, how many of you know some very small and young children are "sold" by their parents to the rug factories to work 10, 12, and 14 hours a day tying knots and make nothing doing it. How many products that we buy today that are made in Asian countries are made in sweat shops filled with little children? SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT (please note: the use of all caps was intended here; yes I am shouting; anyone listening?)

Here are the comments forwarded to my by my very close and dear friend. I would suggest you not be eating anything while you read what is below --- as you might lose your lunch!

====================

Well, this is a good example of things getting out of context or misunderstood. The Hijra have a website and attempt to put a good face on their place in life. The idea of "mental preparation" and "transgendered preparation" is a bit laughable.

This is a community of men who were kidnapped as small boys (ages 3, 4, 5 or 6) castrated as retribution because their parents would not, or could not, pay a ransom. There is nothing to the softer side, the "choice" issue of being Hijra. Hijra IS simply, a male who was castrated by force, without any agreement on his part.

No only is the testicles and penis cut off, as soon as the wounds have healed somewhat, the boy is forced into a squatting position, over a blunt instrument, usually a wooden phallus, and pushed up and down on it forcibly until his rectum bleeds profusely. This is done in a ritual in front of the ones who have castrated the boy, and this act is seen as his first "period" and he is officially considered Hijra after that.

It is a society of cruel, mean, viscious and angry people. They make their living from blackmailing families at weddings and funerals, the treat being, we will turn your sons into Hijra unless you pay the ransom we ask. I've watched these people in action, they are nothing like the pseudo-society that Sophia describes, but if you visit their website, you can easily see where she got that idea. They would like the public at large to believe of them what Sophia does, but the reality is ugly and horrendous. I saw first hand what the real Hijra are and granted, it's more comfortable to ignore the reality. But trust me, dear friend, these are not transgendered people by choice. They're mad because their nuts and dick was cut off when they were little boys and once a Hindu boy is unable to marry, his family turns against him. The Hijra are perpetually angry and want society to pay for what their parents refused to pay for.

But it's an interesting society and an interesting world!

(end of article)

=======================

Perhaps there can be some feed back on this; however, do consider your spiritual responsibility in so doing.

May we use the communication of the WORLD WIDE WEB to gain further understanding of cultures around the world and to promote COMPASSION to our fellow human beings......

Many Blessings to all, Thomas of Kansas

ANDROGYNE is a list for people interested in the study of the mysteries and the spiritual traditions that celebrate androginy in different ways, and about queer deities. It is mostly, but not exclusively for queer individuals. The main purpose is to put together resources for those interested in reclaiming their own spiritual traditions.

You may submit poetry, stories, imagery, or ritual of your own, or from others (as long as you cite your sources) to twospiritsaadaya@hotmail.com.

http://www.angelfire.com/journal/saadaya
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ANDROGYNE
Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to Yahoo! Terms of Service.



From http://www.waveland.com/women's_studies.htm:

Nanda, Serena
GENDER DIVERSITY: Crosscultural Variations

127 pages, $10.50 list; ISBN 1-57766-074-9

How can we gain new understandings about sex, gender, and sexuality? What are the relationships between culture and gender diversity? How has the diffusion of Euro-American culture affected the sex/gender ideologies of non-European cultures? This eye-opening account of the differences in how sex/gender diversity is experienced in seven cultures raises our consciousness and challenges our intellectual understandings and attitudes about what we consider natural, normal, and morally right. Nanda’s examples, which reveal the complexity of social responses toward sex/gender diversity, are ethnographically well documented and represent various geographical areas and sex/gender ideologies. In classic anthropological fashion, Nanda’s text enables us to cross the barriers of cultural difference to a recognition of a greater shared humanity.

Introduction
1. Multiple Genders among North American Indians
2. Hijra and Sadhin: Neither Man Nor Woman in India
3. Men and Not-Men: Sexuality and Gender in Brazil
4. Liminal Gender Roles in Polynesia
5. Transgendered Males in Thailand and the Philippines
6. Sex/Gender Diversity in Euro-American Cultures
Summary. Variations on a Theme
Glossary

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This page first created 6/7/01. Copyright © Stephe Feldman, 2001. Last update: 4/30/05.