This dictionary will be your key to the private world of Indian transpersons

Indian transpersons and people from Hijra community address each other according to their sexual identity and preferences

The 10th Delhi Queer Pride parade is going to be held on Sunday, November 12. The event celebrates sexual diversity and aims to increase LGBTQ+ community’s visibility as well as promote equality.

Sexual minorities in India have been regularly persecuted and discriminated against. In 2009, Delhi High Court took down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised gay sex that opened a window for achieving equal rights for LGBT community. The Supreme Court, however, later reinstated the draconian law four years later. The transgendered population within the community are even more prone to being harassed. But with 2014 Supreme Court’s NALSA judgement recognising them as the ‘third gender’, new hopes have sprung up for them to attain social acceptance as well along with equality under the law.

Hijra Transgender | Wikipedia Image for

It is high time we drop derogatory references such as ‘chakkas’, ‘shemales’ and ‘he/she’ and address the community according to the proper and internally acceptable lexicons. Here are a few examples:


A Farsi word, Hijra is an umbrella term which includes transgenders, cross-dressers and well as the intersex population who follow a well-defined culture. The term is derived from the word ‘hijr’ which means separation from one’s tribe. Hijras are broadly categorized into three gharanas or sub-categories:

  • Nirvan Hijra: Nirvan is the process of undergoing castration. The individuals get genitals removed and choose to dress in feminine attire.
  • Akwa Hijra: The term is used for those who wear feminine clothes but have not yet undergone demasculinization. Some of them are under the tutelage of gurus in order to learn female mannerisms as well as get educated about the culture.
  • Zenana Hijra: Those who do not undergo demasculinization yet wish to follow the hijra culture.

Hijras are also referred to as Aravanis/Thirunangis in Tamil Nadu, Kinnar in north India, Durani in Kolkata, Khusra in Punjab, Hinjida in Odisha and Khwaja Sara in Pakistan.

Hijra Transgender | Wikipedia Image for

Jogti hijra

These male-to-female transgenders generally follow Hinduism and devote themselves to the service of a particular god/goddess and ritually cross-dress for religious purposes.


Shiv-shaktis are males who consider themselves as either ‘possessed by’ or ‘married to’ Lord Shiva. They have effeminate gender expression and cross-dress during religious rituals or festivals.


The term refers to biological males who show varying degrees of effeminate mannerisms and are sexually receptive. They prefer to take feminine roles in same-sex relationships as well as cross-dress. They consider themselves to have been born in the wrong body and designate their partners as husbands. Not all kotis identify themselves as hijras or transgenders and vice versa. The colourful clothes or getup they wear is called Satla.



Panthis are referred by kothis as those who they consider masculine and sexually dominant.


Within the community, the term is used to address those who have versatile sexual preferences when it comes to penetrative sex.


A respectable term of endearment used within the community that signifies the importance of transgender beauty.