In Mumbai, we usually take rickshaws or taxis as daily transportation, but sometimes it could be faster taking a train, just to avoid rush hours. Since we were not clear about which platform is the right direction, we asked a dew people for direction, however, after confirmed with us it is the right platform, they kept pointing a direction. We were quite confused, but went there anyway, then we found out that is the waiting area for women-only car.
There, we met a person, who dressed like women, with colorful saree and heavy make up, but you can easily tell they are men. This person got in the women-only car with us, walked from one passenger to another, clapped in front of their faces, even touch their head or body, and people usually gave them some money. It happened almost every time we took train.
So my friend and me asked a few friends, they all gave different explanations, like
- They are eunuchs, but not by their choice. Since no one want to accept them and offer a decent job, they have to ask for money from train to train.
- It is a kind of blessing. People believe they have the ability to bless or curse, thus they give them money.
- If you don’t give money, they might give you a hard time by covering your face with their saree or so.
After came back, I searched online and found some news:
This one talked about policemen met with transgender community to make sure passeners were not harrassed.
This piece is a strory about transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi got kicked out of an elite Mumbai club.
It is not hard to tell from these newereport that this group couldn't get respect and we everyone have. And I couldn't let the idea go especially read Rafael’s post, so I searched again, and found this project.
Hijra Guru, the transgender community in Mumbai
A detailed article
I did not know much about transgender before and I still don’t, but after seeing them on the train, from the article and Rafael’s interview, you can tell how hard life could be. They are marginalized by the mainstream value and have no way out. As said in the article, their status is very low, even below the untouchable’s caste (I really don’t like this word though.) I couldn’t find much research or projects about them online, which indicates not many people are working on improving their situation or so. How can we help improve safety condition of a group without knowing them, moreover, couldn't even identify them. They are not untouchable, they are also part of the society.