Pains of Minority among Minorities - Gopi Shankar © Srishti Madurai.

“Gender” is related to physical and emotional perception of an individual. Restricting gender in the binary categories of female and male is erroneous as we have to be aware about the existence of more than twenty categories of gender. The same is also true for the sexual orientation where the dominant public knowledge is only limited to the heterosexual orientation. Here we do not want to narrow down our emphasis on homosexuality, rather here we emphasize about Gender-variants, which transcend the binary categories. Gender and sexuality are the rights of an individual and interfering to those refers to the interference in personal freedom.

In India, thanks to the colonial legacy of shallow Victorian values, we have come to see this as a deviant behaviour or violation. Indian culture is originally abundant with legends and mythologies where heroes and heroines have chosen various genders without guilt and their choices have been accepted and respected. Ironically, today the western nations are progressive in researching and educating about gender and sexuality expressions, while we, despite our rich cultural heritage respecting and accepting gender variations and choices are lagging behind and even lacking that sensitivity.

While the students of medicine, engineering, law and literature specialize to practice their own functions, what we lack is that there are no studies or synthetic discipline to study the biological, bio-ethical, legal, psychological, social dimensions of the very basic emotions concerning sexuality and gender. Though the Indian universities can offer worldwide recognized studies, we certainly lack any basic axiomatic framework pertaining to gender and sexuality, while the foreign universities have even started their own departments and research activities. The most painful condition is that even psychologists are mostly unaware of Gender-variants and their localized issues pertaining to Indian conditions.

India’s pre-colonial traditional as well as various localized folk traditions have taken a far healthier attitudes in dealing with sex-education, that may surprise many people on both sides of the fence of sex-education who want to map Indian culture with dominant Victorian male value system. Various folk deities and traditions emphasize fluid nature of gender and mythologies have stories that reinforce this idea. So a child growing up will not have a strong shock value or guilt feeling in relating to one’s own sexuality or others as gender-variants. Devi Mahatmya and Mahabharata are two such examples. Koothandavartemple festival in Tamil Nadu is another example of local folk tradition organically linked to the pan-Indian culture in dealing positively with creating awareness for and empowering gender-variants. These cultural possibilities need to be taken up and explored to create democratic social space for gender-minorities.
Hence a very comprehensive solution for this problem is the induction of social awareness starting from the school days with stories, and progressing into the high school curriculum with a biology and psychology of gender issues over the whole spectrum of gender variance. And then initiate healthy debates and open minded discussions on the issue at the college level.

However this social responsibility has been neglected by both government and social organizations for decades even after independence. Our social and political institutions still suffer from gender bias and colonial mind set of the Victorian era.
 Hence we demand that efforts be made and let the governments and institutions come out with what efforts have been already done in understanding and creating an awareness about the Gender-variants issues in any field, such as law, education and medical sciences.

Generally the terms gender, sexuality and sex are taken to be the same. But they all mean different things. Sex is a biological definition and gender is the self-identity and it also means the sociocultural and behavioral perception, while sexuality refers to the sexual attraction towards a particular sex. That even within the mainstream LGBT community in India, the existence of these many genders is largely unknown.

Some forms of genders don’t even have a proper word in the dictionary and we have coined terms both in Tamil and English for a few, there are more than 20 different types of genders other than male, female and Transgender. 
21 + genders…… 

 திருநர்– Transgender
1. திருநங்கை– Trans-women
2. திருநம்பி- Trans-men


பால்புதுமையர்- Genderqueer

1. பால்நடுநர்– Androgyny

2. முழுனர்– pan-gender

3. இருனர்- Bi-gender

4. திரினர்- Tri-gender

5. பாலிலி– A-gender

6. திருனடுனர்– Neutrois

7. மறுமாறிகள்– Retransitioners
8. தோற்றபாலினத்தவர்– Appearance gendered
9. முரண்திருநர்– Transbinary
10. பிறர்பால்உடையணியும்திருநர்– Transcrossdressers
11. இருமைநகர்வு– Binary’s butch
12. எதிர்பாலிலி– Fancy
13. இருமைக்குரியோர்– Epicene
14. இடைபாலினம்– Intergender
15. மாறுபக்கஆணியல்– Transmasculine
16. மாறுபக்கபெண்ணியல்– Transfeminine
17. அரைபெண்டிர்– Demi girl
18. அரையாடவர்– Demi guy
19. நம்பிஈர்ப்பனள்– Girl fags
20. நங்கைஈர்பனன்– Guy dykes
21. பால்நகர்வோர்– Genderfluid
22. ஆணியல்பெண்– Tomboy
23. பெண்ணன்– Sissy
24. இருமையின்மைஆணியல்– Non binary Butch
25. இருமையின்மைபெண்ணியல்– Non binary femme
26. பிறர்பால்உடைஅணிபவர்– Cross Dresser


A total positive transformation in public awareness and perception will at least take another 20 years, the government, educationists and social activists should put an effort together and the change should start from the education system. We insist that gender and sexuality education should be part of the educational system from the primary schools itself and slowly through spiral methodology enter the main syllabus in high schools and colleges with appropriate discourse value.
People are ignorant about the existence of various genders and sexuality and due to this, for over a century, women &other minority gender-variants have undergone a lot of ill-treatment and abuse. It is time to put an end to this inhuman treatment to our gender-minorities. Hence we request through this every individual should insist the government that all actions that have been done so far in the field of education, culture, social awareness, medicine, research, psychology, legislation and media etc. for the empowerment of gender-minorities be brought to light, the schemes for their empowerment be brought out to public awareness so that we can take them to the gender-minorities, make them aware that the society and government respect them, make them aware of their rights and empowerment affirmation programs and also suggest improvement based on our own field study and experiences. "The marginal Genderqueer person...is one whom fate has condemned to live in two societies and in two, not merely different but antagonistic cultures....their mind is the crucible in which two different and refractory cultures may be said to melt and, either wholly or in part, fuse."  Social exclusion of Genderqueer even among the mainstream transgender community in India is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live. Breaking the system of binary,  hetronormative , homonormative or transnormative  will create problem in social system the society thinks and so called self proclaiming modernist and postmodernists   of Indian society are not opening their mouth on Genderqueer issues.

1.     Lack of awareness about genderqueer issues from the side of physician , leads the patients with genderqueer identities treated with prejudice and misconceptions which results in the inappropriate medical services offered. On the other hand, awareness only about the existence of binary transgendered identities allows the physicians to reduce genderqueer issues as a subset of binary transgendered issues.

2.     Apart from the medical services offered to the binary transgenders(transmen and transwomen), for transition, genderqueer identified transsexuals have different medical services and currently there exist no recognition for such  transformation in medical sciences or as in law and hence the non binary transsexuals(eg.neutrois) people are led with the choice of non-transitioning or transitioning to a binary category like transwomen or transmen.


3.     The lack of awareness, claim of inexistence, claim of passing, claim of extreme mental illness and claim as abnormal gives genderqueer people psychological , physical and sexual trauma and hides every chance for their self acceptance itself. They are compelled directly or indirectly to fit themselves within the binary gender categories which results in incorrect decisions of sex reassignment surgeries

4.     Genderqueer people exist as “minorities within minorities”, with the lack of awareness about themselves, and faces the discrimination from the other sexual and gender minorities as well as the mainstream heteronormative society. The issues of genderqueers are considered marginal, in-existent and suppressed to enter the social activism by the dominant binary transgendered view that their issues must be taken into first and genderqueer issues comes second.

5.     Systematized and organized research about genderqueer people and their issues are almost inexistent in the fields of medicine, psychological sciences, humanities and social sciences etc. Academic schools of gender studies solely focus on studying about binary genders and hence the specific needs and problems of genderqueer issues remains almost unknown.


6.     Genderqueer people requires protection by law from the psychological,physiological and sexual abuses and the need to accept themselves and their identity. Moreover the specific requirements of genderqueer people must be recognized for the civil,medical and other rights.

7.     It is quite impossible to predict the number of people affected by such conditions because these issues are repressed and unknown even to the people who experiences violence because of being genderqueer people. 


 Compiled by: JM John Marshal, Director Srishti Groups.