India’s third-gender ‘hijra’ community balances acceptance with religious identity

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Hijras Shilpa and Joya are chelas or students of Shobha Masi. They have lived in this small ghetto of Ahmedabad since they were young girls. Photo taken on March 19, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Yasmine Canga-Valles

Hijras Shilpa and Joya are chelas or students of Shobha Masi. They have lived in this small ghetto of Ahmedabad since they were young girls. Photo taken on March 19, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Yasmine Canga-Valles

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(RNS) Some members of India's ancient "hijra" community fear that the new, official third-gender classification will prevent them from practicing their traditions.