The first transgender employee at Bangladesh Nat’l Human Rights Commission

Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity has become the first transgender official in Bangladesh’s state-run human rights watchdog – the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“The journey was not an easy one. I was by born a male child, but at the age of five, I began realizing that I wanted to be a girl. Afterwards, when I was 11-12 years old, I started changing myself despite the fact that it was not accepted by my family,” Chaity told the Dhaka Tribune.

Chaity felt a change inside but was not able to make her family members understand.

“I was the only male child of the family, and thus my parents were not ready to accept these changes. Their attitude towards me changed, and they kept trying to demoralize me. When the pressure became overwhelming, I left my home for the first time to look for people like me in the transgender community—where I would feel safe and accepted,” she said.

Chaity travelled to Jessore, far away from her home to hide from her family. However, the community she found in Jessore was not the one she was looking for.

The hijra community she found was engaged in collecting large amounts of money from shops, establishments, and houses where a child had been born.

“I wanted to lead a normal life as a transwoman–a life with mental peace. I was not transgender by birth, and I did not like the strategies members of that community were using to raise money. So, I realized it was neither a good choice, nor a good life,” she said.

Chaity wanted a better life for herself so she went home  to complete her Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC). After that she started working for different NGOs working for transgender.

Chaity joined Bandhu Social Welfare in 2007.

“I grew my hair long like a girl’s, but whenever I needed to go back home, I had to cut it off as my family always wanted me to be a boy,” she said.

She was notified by Bandhu Social Welfare Society that NHRC will appoint executives, so she applied, and got the job.

“I am excited. It is a new beginning for the entire transgender community.”

Her family accepted her after she got the job. She also sends money home every month as she is the only male child of the family and has the corresponding societally-determined gender-based responsibilities.

“Hijras should lead lives as normal people, and the attitude and mindset of society has to change in order to ensure that hijras do not have to do what they are forced to do for money,” she said.

There are about 10,000 hijras living in Bangladesh according to a survey by the social welfare ministry.

NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said: “This step was taken as part of NHRC’s commitment to promote and protect human rights. Chaity is now a front desk executive at NHRC. We believe our initiative will encourage other institutions – both governmental and non-governmental – to promote the rights of vulnerable members of society.”

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