These portraits of people who identify as India's 3rd gender group are stunning

Jill Peters is a photographer who explores sexuality, identity and culture and her latest work Nirvan, the Third, documents the hijra community in India.

The year 2014 marked a turning point in India’s perception of gender when in April the Supreme Court ruled that the hijra community would henceforth be recognised on official documents, including job applications, as a “third gender.”

However a December 2013 ruling means gay sex is still illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison, which discriminates against them.

Writing on her website, Peters says:

The term 'hijra' applies to a very diverse group of people in India who identify as third gender. They can range from a natural born hermaphrodite...

...to a male cross dresser.

Today, hijras live on the margins of society. They face severe harassment at the hands of the state and the wider population.

Police brutality and sexual assault are common.

Because hijras are generally seen as unemployable, they have resorted to sex work and begging for survival.

My intention was simply to portray them as the subjects of beauty and grace they so desperately wish to be, as if their path to nirvana had not been impeded by a century and a half of prejudice and intolerance.

All images: Jill Peters

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