Heteronormativity and the Marginalization of Third Gender: An Analysis of Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness


  • Himakhi Phukan M.A., M.Phil Dibrugarh University Dibrugarh, Assam, India.


Heteronormativity, Heterosexual, Marginalization, LGBT, Queer, Hijra, Gender, Performativity.


Indian society seems to be highly patriarchal which is expected to cherish heteronormativity, i.e. the assumption that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or the sexual and marital relations are happened to be with people of two opposite sexes. This heteronormativity believes only on the binary construction of gender identity, either masculinity or femininity and propels the non-heterosexual gender identities to the margin tagging them as unnatural, abnormal, deviant, queer, sick and so on. The Queer Theory questions the heterosexual framework and gives space to those whose identities and behaviours do not adhere to their biological sexes. Although Indian government legally acknowledges the Third Gender (the category of LGBT) which may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender queer but in the practical sense, they are yet far away to be accepted as “normal” human being by the society. Arundhati Roy’s long-awaited second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017) brings the issue of Third Gender by depicting a transgender character named Anjum who was born as a hermaphrodite. After being humiliated, ridiculed and suffered a great deal in the family as well in social spheres, ze[1] eventually joins the old Delhi hijra community. The novel portrays a realistic picture of the plight of hijra community and the negative attitude of the mainstream society towards the peoples who do not conform to the stereotypical gender norms. The present study will explore the politics of hetronormativity in marginalizing the non-heterosexual (Third Gender) gender identities.


[1] Gender neutral pronoun for he/she.



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How to Cite

Phukan, H. (2019). Heteronormativity and the Marginalization of Third Gender: An Analysis of Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH, 7(7), 12. Retrieved from https://ijellh.com/OJS/index.php/OJS/article/view/9306