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See also: Hijra


Etymology 1[edit]

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From Hindi हीजड़ा ‎(hījṛā), perhaps from Kannada [script needed] ‎(heṇṇiga, impotent man, coward).

Alternative forms[edit]


hijra ‎(plural hijras)

  1. A eunuch in South Asia, especially one who dresses as a woman. [from 19th c.]
    • 1993, William Dalrymple, City of Djinns, Penguin 2004, page 172:
      When the Mughal court was disbanded, Muslim hijras were exposed for the first time to the other, Hindu, tradition of eunuchry.
  2. A (typically biologically male or intersex, but sometimes biologically female) member of a somewhat feminine third gender found in India and Pakistan.
    • 1995, Gayatri Reddy, With Respect to Sex: Negotiating Hijra Identity in South India (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, & Culture), ISBN: 0226707563 [1]:
      The subjects of this study are hijras or the "third sex" of India, individuals who occupy a unique, liminal space between male and female, sacred and profane.
    • 2011, AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India (ISBN 030745472X), page 111:
      Even more surprisingly, there are female hijras, women who were born women, who are drawn into the gharanas by the attraction and apparent safety of the hierarchies' substitute for family life.
    • 2013, Raymond A. Smith, Global HIV/AIDS Politics, Policy, and Activism (ISBN 0313399468), page 208:
      While videographers were shooting him as he sat on the floor among a group of male and female sex workers, two transgender (male-to-female) hijras came to sit next to him, one on either side.
    • 2013, Reader's Guide to Lesbian and Gay Studies (ISBN 1135942412), page 280:
      Nanda profiles [] an uncastrated hijra who is married to a man and has an adopted son; and a hermaphrodite hijra []
Usage notes[edit]

This term is sometimes considered offensive in Pakistan. A polite alternative is the Urdu خواجه سرا ‎(khawaja sara),[1] although this term is rare in English.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Positive Impact, A Second Look at Pakistan's Third Gender: The April 25th (2009) decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court to officially recognize transgender people as the third gender marked a groundbreaking development that has gone relatively unnoticed by the outside world. It was the most significant judgment in a series of decisions the Court has taken over the last year and a half aimed at protecting the rights of the Khawaja Sara – a term encompassing transvestites, transsexuals and transgender people. There are signs that these decisions are already starting to bear fruit in this conservative nation of 187 million people. “It really is unbelievable” says Sanam Faqueer, an activist from the southern city of Sukkur and focal person on Khawaja Sara issues for the provincial government of Sindh. “Finally there is a real chance our problems are starting to be addressed.”

Etymology 2[edit]

Arabic هِجْرَة ‎(hijra, departure, exodus).


hijra ‎(plural hijras)

  1. Alternative letter-case form of Hijra
  2. Any similar flight or emigration to a better place.
Usage notes[edit]

Usually capitalized in reference to the specific event or the Islamic calendar based upon it.