This Is Not About The Body: Deprioritizing A Corporeal Study Of The Hijra

Alex Padfield

Name: Alex Padfield
Major: Religious Studies
Advisor: Advisor: Dr. Mirza Second Reader: Dr. Graham

Hijras, located in present-day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, are most often described in terms of their gender presentation. We are often met with English terms such as transgender, third gender, and eunuch. This study argues that these terms are Western, mainly American creations, and cannot adequately identify Hijras outside of revealing surveilled bodily information. Instead, this study focuses on other aspects of the Hijra, primarily the structural organization of Hijra communities, the Hijra secret language, and privacy. I posit Hijra structural organization as proximal to Sufi and Hindu ascetic religious orders. Additionally, I reflect on the Hijra secret language- Hijra Farsi- and closed communities as a mechanism of privacy. This study concludes that the application of Western terms is a form of colonial violence which weaponizes lgbtqia identities as examples of Western liberation. Keywords: Hijra, Hijra Farsi, linguistics, privacy, community, homonationalism.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 12, 2023.

One response to “This Is Not About The Body: Deprioritizing A Corporeal Study Of The Hijra”

  1. Mark Graham says:

    Hi Alex — Thank you for doing this work and sharing it here! I’ve read your IS, and so it’s also great to see your work in this presentation form. Yours is a really interesting and challenging project, and I look forward to discussing it more with you. (Also really appreciate the picture of you and your cat friend. 🙂 )