"BLACK SHEEP" is a powerful new film shining a light on the lives and stories of a group of individuals in India whose identities fall outside of binary notions of a male and female.
These individuals identify as Hijra, a third gender identity category which achieved full legal recognition in 2014, and can be understood as or fall under the umbrella of transgender identify is approached from a Western point of view.
The 70-minute film follows a group of Hijras as they experience community, form bonds and combat stigma and prejudice. Currently making the rounds at various festivals, its filmmakers are hoping the film will be available for online viewing in December.
According to filmmaker Reshel Shah, the subjects of this film are seen by society in one of two ways.
"First is the more mythical side, when there is a celebration such as a wedding or the birth of a child," Shah explained. "The women come to bless the new family member into the family. Secondly is the sadder one where the transgender women are seen as the untouchables of India -- of course most social systems have a hierarchy ladder and thus keeps them at the bottom. Things are slowly changing in India, which is great, such as some job openings, but it is taking time. From the time I spent with the transgender women in India I realized that they see themselves as the opposite -- as warriors -- and that was and is amazing."