Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Hijra by Adrienne Nash

It’s not often that a book can be even more captivating when one can infer from the title and first few pages where it is probably going. In “The Hijra”, Adrienne Nash, an author whom I follow almost compulsively, has written a superlative novel about the descent of a very sweet, innocent and extremely naïve young person into the horrors of sexual slavery. “The Hijra” is a complex book about a male-born transgender youth who experiences bullying, betrayal, blackmail, sexual molestation, degradation, human trafficking and ultimately, forced sexual servitude. Both in story line and quality of writing, Nash’s book is reminiscent of the brilliant trilogy of MN Tomas and the gut-wrenching work of the late Katie Leone

The plot of “The Hijra” relates directly to the shame that permeates society toward anything that defies a rigid “bi-gender” system. Such stigma is the result of societal and patriarchal stereotypes, fostered by rigid thinking, self-righteousness and religious dogma. These prejudices foster underlying emotional problems seen in some transgender individuals and create in our young protagonist, Kyle (Kylie) a pattern of deceit and a lack of emotional fortitude and courage to be forthright about her vexing gender concerns. Thinking she is an outcast and lacking in self-esteem, young Kylie internalizes her secret and engages in extremely self-destructive behavior.  Sadly, she is unwilling and unable to share her shame with a loving mother, who probably could and would have assisted her “real” self to emerge.

The Hijra” delivers a huge moral. We can’t simply attribute poor self-esteem, emotional problems and high suicidal propensity solely to gender dysphoria or changing sex. The major and underlying problem is that we, as a society, are not particularly accepting of individual differences in general and certainly not gender variance.  Sexual slavery and sex trafficking only exist because of shame and unique people like our protagonist should be able to live in peace in whatever role they choose. Sadly, most likely this will not happen in our lifetimes.

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