Humza Shaikh

Issues Stemming from Colonialism Part 1

              British rule in India created a plethora of problems from the local inhabitants. Their demonization and criminalization of the transgender community was one of the most heinous and digusting things during colonial times. Prior to British rule, the Mughals ruled over much of the Indian subcontinent. The Mughals where a muslim empire, but with rather liberal ideoligies and practices. Mughal rule India was not a perfect place for transgender people. Yet, they had more rights and wealth during that period of time. They were also treated as regular members of society, not shunned or cast off into the shadows. By the late 1800’s the sphere British influence on the continent was massive. The subcontinent was essentially there to pillage and rule as they please. In 1871 the British declared transgender people a criminal tribe. Ever since, transgender people have never been able to get the rights they once had. 

             Prior to the 1871 act transgender people where members of the Mughal Indian society. Some held important positions in the government and courts. Those who didn’t work for the government; made their money blessing people, going to weddings and other important events. As a result of the CTC they couldn’t do this anymore. Many trans people were pushed into poverty and lost everything. Their identity and their only means to support themselves. This was exactly the goal of the British. To completely eradicate trans people from the subcontinent. Post-colonialism discrimination was still rampant, and the lasting effect of the British was hardto just forget. Fast forward to 150 years later and just now are trans people starting to regain some of their rights. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have all passed legislation recognizing and protecting transgender people. While this isn’t enough, it’s a massive step in the right direction. Even so, the lasting British ideologies are still present in a lot peoples minds, and the rise of extremist Islam and Hinduism has created more pushback and trouble for trans rights.


            The two most widespread religions in South Asia are Hinduism and Islam. Both of these religions are a lot more liberal than their conservative followers may like to admit. There is nothing in the Qu’ran that explicitly states that being trasngender is wrong. The same goes for Hinduism. Neither religion is anti-trans, but due to the rise of extremism and conservatism both religions have adopted far right and anti-lgbtq viewpoints. This is very unsettling and goes against some of the basic principles of both religions. Islam and Hinduism teaches tolerance and respect above all so the very idea of not accepting people for who they are isn’t inline with the beliefs of these religions. 

            Discrimination against the trans community is not a rooted in south asian culture or religious principles. South asian families need to realize and learn that the hatred towards these people was never a part of our culture. These people's identities are one of the many beautiful unique aspects of South Asian culture. The oppression they suffer from is something we inherited from the British. Their rule led to the demonization and systemic oppression of trans people. As a community, south asian people need to open up and do everything they can to try and help insure trans people get the same rights as everyone else.


Gul, Mahwish. “The British Introduced the Discrimination of Transgender Persons to South
        Asia.” D+C, 16 Oct. 2018,

MacDonald, Fiona. “The Semi-Sacred 'Third Gender' of South Asia.” BBC Culture, BBC, 20
         June 2017,