For the first time in the political history of Bangladesh, transgenders who identify as women will be able to run for elections. This is a step towards advancing their place in the society and providing much needed recognition from the government.
The transgender community can now compete for the 50 seats reserved for women in upcoming elections in the National Parliament. According to various news sources, the ruling party is willing to allow at least one MP from the transgender community. Eight members of the transgender community were confirmed on the Awami League party ballot, which is still the first and only political party in the nation to allow this. This decision brings a touch of hope and celebrates diversity.
Bangladesh as a state itself might reject the regulations of radical Islam, but it has a long way to go to accept the LGBTQ community.
“We are citizens of Bangladesh but we have no representation in the parliament. There is no one from our community who can understand and raise our concerns. That is why we are running for the seats.”Said Falguni, one of the aspirants, in an interview with Dhaka Tribune
In Bangladesh, there are controversies and laws against same sex marriage and consensual relationship between LGBTQ+ members. However, if the transgender community can represent themselves these would be a step in improving their conditions and moving towards more just laws and equitable policies. There is a general lack of awareness and stigma. Transgender rights, correct identification and acknowledgement of sexuality and gender is a huge issue. LGBTQ folks face an intensely hostile environment in their homes and society, often, compromising their safety.
Out of 160 million people, an estimated ten thousand to half a million belong to the transgender community. The engagement of transgender citizens competing for a seat under the National Parliament might bring in much needed changes. In our own homes, it’s time we address the word “hijra” as a gender not a word to demean a community who have equal rights and freedom as any other gender of this society.