Shobha Nehru

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Shobha Nehru

Biographical information on Nehru in English is difficult to locate online. Some coverage is of dubious quality, displaying little respect for trans people; some is merely brief and without much context.

In 1998, Nehru was elected to the city council of Hissar, Haryana, a province in India. Her appointment was a noteworthy achievement; due to extreme persecution it is difficult for hijra (a gender designation similar to ‘trans women’) to enter into professions enjoyed by other citizens, and her victory was the start of a trend.

Nehru got her political start with neighborhood sanitation organizing – clearing up trash heaps, etc. – and was nominated for the municipal elections when her neighbors took notice. She went on to win three in a row, and was quoted saying, “I know the art of getting things done.” Her politics are bound up in activism on behalf of her community: “When people see me getting the drains fixed and arranging water and electricity, they stop treating me like an outcast. Having a role in public life wins me respect. I get on the stage during social functions and I’m garlanded.”

For a more in-depth explanation of the social position hijra occupy in India, see this testimony by Raveena Bariha.

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