Transgender, gay Indians fight to cast off taboos, stereotypes(CNN)

Posted: April 29, 2014 in News

Sitting cross-legged at her office desk, Abhina Aher expounds on what it means to be trapped in the wrong body.

She is a 37-year-old Hijra — a South Asian term for male-to-female transgendered people. She appears at ease when she speaks about her sexual orientation and about the stereotypes associated with her community.

Aher is relaxed because she’s in the confines of a non-profit workplace espousing the cause of sexual minorities like herself. Here, she’s not judged by her deep voice or her masculine face, its lines softened by make-up, or by her feminine dresses, nail-polish and jewelry.

Aher has gained a new found place in her country. India’s Supreme Court recently granted her and other transgendered people, status as a third gender. So, men can now be identified as females and females can be identified as males.

But the outside world, she says, is harsh. In a largely conservative, family-structured region, proclaiming you are not what you are born could entail a harrowing ordeal that Aher suffered — and survived.

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