Photo by Tim Bieler on Unsplash

A satellite television station in Bangladesh hired their first transgender news anchor in hopes to progress its society.

Tashnuva Anan Shishir made her first debut on Dhaka-based Boishakhi TV on March 8. The 29-year-old former rights activist and actress broadcasted a three-minute news bulletin on International Women’s Day. 

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When she finished reading, she cried as her colleagues cheered her on.

“I was very nervous, I was feeling so much emotion, but I had in my mind that I must overcome this ordeal, this final test,” Shishir said in an interview.

Shishir was born as Kamal Hossain Shishir, but says when she was a teenager she realized she behaved like a woman, and was stuck inside of a man’s body. 

She was bullied, teased and sexually exploited by friends, relatives and neighbors. 

Shishir said it was impossible to live and she tried to commit suicide.

She says the worst part was when her father blamed her for her family losing face, and completely stopped talking to her. After that, she decided to leave home. 

Shishir moved away from her family in a southern coastal district to live alone. She soon began hormone therapy, charity work and took up acting at a local theatre. 

She began studying at Dhaka university at the beginning of this year, and is continuing classes alongside her on-air position.

Bangladesh has over 10,000 transgender people officially, but activists believe the true number is much higher. The Bangladesh LGBT community is highly discriminated against, facing social isolation, sexual abuse and other forms of harassment. 

The community is faced with trouble finding jobs, and many are left on the streets begging for money, and prostituting themselves.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government began allowing transgender people to identify themselves as a separate gender in 2013, and gave them voting rights in 2018.

Boishakhi TV hired a second transgender person in their drama department, saying they wanted to be part of the changes in the country.

“Our prime minister has taken many steps for the transgender people. Encouraged by such steps, we have appointed two transgender people, We want the attitude of society to change through these appointments,” said Tipu Alam Milon, the station’s deputy managing director.

Written ByHaley Weger

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