Road Tales – The Third Gender

The list of stories I encountered so far in my life is decently long, so the obvious question was where to start. But on my way back from my workplace I encountered a group of transgenders in the bus, who were laughing and singing among themselves, and there was this not-so-gentleman of 50’s staring strangely at them as if he saw the E.T straight out of the Spielberg’s set. So it just clicked that why not note down my experience with them.

As a kid I saw a few transgenders in my locality, and frankly it was strange and subject of curiosity to me back then, because I have seen men and women, but what the heck is a woman with stubble or manly voice. and in all the cases my go to person was my mom; so my question was who are they. Then mom explained that they are transgenders who don’t fall in the traditional gender grouping, so they are often referred to as the third gender (later it was revealed that it has a lot to do with biology). So why do they have to stand in the traffic signal or go to people’s house and dance with the kids to make their livings ? because they are not allowed to work with other “NORMAL” people, they are the castaways who are allowed to live in their community only (though the situation is slowly changing).

When I was allowed to travel alone to school, on my way back home I saw a transgender asking money from everyone, but if anybody says no, without any second word moving on to the next person. As pseudo-brave and show-off I was from schooldays, I was standing near the empty foot board. She (since English dictionary didn’t provide me with alternative pronoun, I ll stick to she as the transgender was dressing as woman)  decided to take a break from her chore and rest near the same place. I was looking at her, hoping that she doesn’t ask money from me, because I spent my last money on chips during lunch break. But surprise! surprise! the thing she said was “do you want to eat something ? you look hungry!” seriously I was feeling ashamed, and somehow managed to say no. But there she was, someone often neglected by society, but still retained her humanity, she bought a big packet of peanuts and shared with me. and after that day she was like a train time guardian for me, and when I told mom what happened she just smiled.

I will sign off with another incident. Few years back I was travelling to Delhi and unfortunately I got the RAC seat, that I had to share with some Punjab polices ( detail of that story, another day). Once They got off, a transgender came in and sat beside me and as usual after a while we started talking. And she told me a lot of thing about Delhi, how she came to Delhi etc. and not for one moment it felt weird to me. Maybe because she was more kind and humane than many people around us, they are more than their sexuality, more than the strange look society gives them every now and then. They are just like you and me.

photo source: pri.orgtransgender

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