Call me Heena
Call me Heena
Hijra, a term of South Asia which have no exact match in the modern western taxonomy of gender, designated as male at birth with feminine gender identity and eventually adopts feminine gender roles. They are often grossly labeled as hermaphrodites, eunuchs, transgender or transsexual women in literature, presently a more justified social term for them is the Third Gender.
Instead of coming from various social and family backgrounds, Hijras feel a strong sense of belongings to their groups. They create an intimacy with their surroundings - with their community and new homes. These groups give them the shelter of a family and the warmth of human relationship. Outside the group, they are discriminated and scorned almost everywhere.
I, like almost everyone else in my society, grew up seeing them as less than human. Their habits, way of life, and even looks marked them as different and deviant, as if a living testimony of biological aberration. Then I met Heena, who showed me how wrong I was.
In today’s world, Hijras hardly get an opportunity to have a normal life. They do not have any school to study, no temple to pray in, no government and private organizations would want to see them in their employee list. They have no access to legal system nor do even health service providers welcome them.
I have started this self-financed on going project in the beginning of July 2012. Although my work captures moments through photographs, the moments are far and long in between, because the intention is to capture the stories of the voiceless hijra community when they are most comfortable with themselves without performing to the world. The photos tell stories of struggle, momentary joys and hidden dreams -the intimacy every individual has with their thoughts when no one is looking.