In July 2016, Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel arrested three trans women (male-to-female transgender persons) at a railway station in Kolkata, West Bengal. When a transgender activist contacted the RPF official about the arrests, the official told her that they were not ‘real’ hijras, and dressed up merely to beg for money. He said he could prove they were ‘artificial’ by stripping them and revealing that they had male genitalia. The activist tried to inform him about the 2014 Supreme Court judgment on transgender rights (‘NALSA vs. Union of India’, or the NALSA judgment in short), which states that one need not undergo surgical transition to be considered transgender, but the cop said he didn’t want to get into such legalities. This tendency of distinguishing between ‘fake’ and ‘real’ hijras or trans persons based on genitals is an old one: to give just another example, back in July 2012, the Times of India reported that four ‘fake eunuchs’ had been arrested near Kanpur after being medically examined and found to be ‘men’.
Author: Ani Dutta
Ani Dutta is an assistant professor of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies and Asian Languages & Literatures at the University of Iowa, and has been working as a volunteer and re-searcher with gender non-conforming communities in eastern India over the last decade.