Bangladesh: A channel hires first transgender news anchor

A Bangladeshi-satellite television-station has hired the country’s first transgender news anchor, saying it hopes the appointment will help change society.

Tashnuva Anan Shishir, who previously worked as a rights activist and actress, debuted on Dhaka-based Boishakhi TV on Monday. She read a three-minute news bulletin. After she finished reading, she burst out with tears as her colleagues and peers lauded and cheered for her.

“I was very nervous but I had in my mind that I must overcome this ordeal, this final test,” Shishir, 29, said in an interview.

Born Kamal Hossain Shishir, she said she found in her early teens that she was stuck in a man’s body and behaved like a woman. She said family members, relatives and neighbours started teasing her and she was bullied and sexually exploited.

She moved from her family’s house in a southern coastal district to live a solitary life in the capital. She sooner underwent hormone therapy. After which, she worked for charities and acted with a local theater group. In January, she began studying public-health at a Dhaka university, which she is continuing alongside her job at the TV-station.

Since 2013, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has allowed transgender people to identify themselves as a separate gender. They were given voting rights in 2018.

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