India's Third Gender
And in today’s episode of removing colonial notions of gender, let’s get to know what India was like prior to British Occupation.
In India, non-binary people date back to ancient times and hinduism, which is followed by nearly 80% of Indians, recognises not two, but three genders.
The third gender, known as Tritiya Prakriti (tri-te-yah pr-uh-kle-ti), describes those who are neither male or female and is written about in Sacred Hindu Texts.
These texts show that in Ancient India, society made room for many different genders and gender expressions.
But when the British invaded India, they viewed Tritiya Prakriti people as unnatural and associated them with filth and contagion,
and started what would become centuries of persecution, with the introduction of Section 377 of India’s Penal code.
While Section 377 was mainly associated with homosexuality, it was also used against any group the British considered ‘deviant’.
In modern times, Tritiya Prakiti (tri-te-yah pr-uh-kle-ti) make up part of the transgender, non-binary and intersex community known as Hijra (he-je-rah),
And while they still face extraordinary barriers as a result of colonisation, there have been some steps forward.
In 2008, the state of Tamil Nadu recognised a third gender and in 2018, India finally repealed Section 377.
There’s still a long way to go, but the way forward might actually be backwards, as according to some of the oldest texts in the world,
There is nothing unnatural in nature, and every way of being is a manifestation of the divine.
Image 1: Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex (2) via GALVA108
Image 2: Battle of Assaye via WikiCommons