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Bangladesh’s first transgender newsreader made her debut on International Women’s Day

Thashnuva Anan Shishir, a 29-year-old transgender made her debut news-reading on Boishakhi TV in Bangladesh on International Women’s day. She delivered a 3-minute bulletin at 4 pm on International Women’s day.

Shishir, after her first news- reading session, broke down in tears overcome by emotion. She later said that she was shaking inside before going on air. She thought about the stage dramas that she had performed and followed the techniques she learned. Shishir who had gone for auditions in many news channels said only Boisakhi TV was brave enough to take her in. She hoped that her new role would make a change to her community’s image in the country.

Julfikar Ali Manik, a spokesman of Boishakhi TV said that it was a “historic step” and that the channel was determined to give her a chance despite the risk of backlash from some viewers.

Shishir realized in her early teens that she was transgender. She was subjected to sexual assaults and bullying for years. The bullying was so unbearable for her that she attempted suicide 4 times. Her family was also harassed and her father stopped talking to her. When she couldn’t cope anymore she left her home and went to live in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Later she moved to Narayanganj.

She underwent hormone therapy and worked for charities and acted in theatre. Despite facing a lot of problems in her day-to-day life she continued her studies. In January she became the first transgender to study for a master’s in public health at the James P Grant School of Public Health in Dhaka. Recently she has also signed up to act in two films.

There are about 1.5 million transgender people in Bangladesh. The community faces widespread discrimination and violence and some are even forced to beg or involve in the sex trade or crime just for their survival. In 2013 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government allowed trans people to be identified as a separate gender and in 2018 they were allowed to register to vote as the third gender.

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