India's transgender community, known as the Hijra, see themselves not as male or female, but as a distinct third sex. Although they are regarded as a special Hindu caste and are called on to perform blessings at weddings and the birth of male babies, they are shunned by society.
The little income they make from religious ceremonies is supplemented by prostitution. As a result AIDS is rampant within their community. Sadly, their low social and economic status usually puts medical care out of reach.
The Good Shepherd Hospital in Dharmapuri has a specific program for the Hijra. Of the nearly 250 members of the local community 22 regularly come for medical care, counseling and nutrition.
As important as their medical care is, the biggest gift the staff gives them is unconditional acceptance.