‘Hijra, not third gender’
There is a massive knowledge gap when it comes to the issues of the transgender and Hijra community in the country, said members of the community at a dialogue yesterday.
"Most of the time, media address us as the 'third gender', which is a derogatory term. In 2013, the government recognised us as 'Hijra', not 'third gender'," said Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity, a trans woman and trans rights activist.
She made the remarks at the dialogue, titled "Developing the inherent capacities of ", organised by Somporker Noya Setu at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh.
Trans woman S Srabonti said people of the transgender community face a lot of discrimination in accessing healthcare in mainstream hospitals and the most basic of things, like toilets and sanitation.
"No one talks about the discrimination we face in the workplace. We face wage discrimination and sometimes sexual harassment from colleagues," said Mizanul Haque Mitu, vice president of Paddakuri Hijra Sangha.
"The Tk 10,000 after the completion of training provided by the social services department cannot change our fate. If they can involve us in work or allow us networking opportunities, that could be helpful," she added.
The recent population and housing census 2022 included transgender people as a separate gender and found only 12,629 members belonging to transgender communities, while the social services department data shows the number to be 11,000 in Bangladesh, said Shova Sarkar, BLAST junior advocacy officer.
"In reality, their number is almost 1,50,000. An overwhelming majority of them were left out."
Md Shah Jahan, deputy director of the social services department, said the department has been providing training, allowances and stipends for this population and is ready to do more.
Lawmaker Aroma Dutta, in her speech as the chief guest, said she will raise the issue in the parliament to provide them with flats in every divisional city to mitigate their accommodation challenges.
Dr Md Moktar Hossain, director of social security at the social services department; M Robiul Islam, deputy director, NHRC; Ivan Ahmed Kotha, president, Shachetan Shamjasheba Hijra Sangha; and Tanvir Alim, communication lead, OboyobDiversity Circle; spoke at the event among others, moderated by Joya Sikder, president, Somporker Noya Setu.