The Secret World of South India’s Transgender Women

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Image: Sahar Fadaian

The hijras’ requests for donations were not always gentle, though. As Fadaian recalls, “In some cases if a man resisted giving them money, they would scare him by showing their privates, following him, screaming at him until he finally gives up.”

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Image: Sahar Fadaian

Fadaian found herself increasingly intrigued by the colorful hijras. “I had some moments of such strange eye contact with numbers of them when I was stuck in traffic or I was walking in their neighborhood,” she explains. “One day I thought to myself, ‘They are just people, like you, Sahar. Only with faces and bodies that don’t get approval.’”

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Image: Sahar Fadaian

Fadaian felt a personal connection with the hijras and their situation. “I come from a country where I was never approved of by my family, and I could never fit in with the cultural revolutions and the constant mask the government wants us to wear,” she says of life in Iran.

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