Muslim Hijras - neither male nor female
Muslim Hijras - neither male nor female

The hijras have been defined numerous times by outsiders: As " transvestites", "eunuchs", "hermaphrodites", "effeminate males", [...] but only newer ethnographic reports (Serena Nanda, Neither man nor woman) tried to find out how the hijras define themselves. If asked, a hijra will answer "a hijra (or khusra, mukhannath, whatever term she will use) is someone who is neither male nor female". [...]
The enigmatic hijras, the male to female transgenders and intersexuals  of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - few is known about them in the west, most of it consists of prejudices and wrong images. [...]
Many hijras, if not most, are muslim - not only in muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh but also in hindu-secular India - and their old connection to the dynasties of muslim rule in India are an issue of pride to all of them, including the hindus.
Hijra is only the most frequently used term to describe them. It is derived from Urdu, the poetical language of the Indian Subcontinent`s islamic culture. Another widely used word for them is "khusra" which is from the Punjabi language (NorthWest India, NorthEast Pakistan). [...]
There are two ways of being a hijra. The first is to be born as an intersexual or hermaphrodite, the second is to be born with a male body but with a feminine gender identity. In both cases the person is "born as a hijra". You don`t become a hijra, you are a hijra "because Allah created you that way", as muslim hijras might ad. However, to be officially respected as a hijra you have to be part of the hijra society. This means to become the follower of an older and experienced hijra whom the younger hijra regards as her mother and her guru. [...]
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