According to the last census, India has 500,000 self-declared transgender people. And since April 2014, the Indian government has mandated that forms have a “third gender” box on forms, along with male and female.
But many suspect that there are many more transgender folks living in the shadows in India. And for some, a much older word than transgender applies: Hijra.
Hijras are male-to-female trans, but much more than that: they are a special and ancient group that’s both stigmatized and a real presence in cities like the one where I live, Mumbai.