Transgender community and their Rights in Bangladesh


By Shahriar Islam Shovon

The transgender community is one of the most vulnerable groups in Bangladesh. They have been ignored and mistreated for an extended period of time. These individuals separate themselves as a consequence of the backdated mindset of the members of society. They have opted to make a living through the sex trade, begging, and extortion because they have been subjected to neglect, humiliation, and societal prejudice.

Though the Department of Social Services determines that there are about 10 thousand transgender people in Bangladesh, private estimates place the figure at two and a half lakhs. ‘Heterosexuals’ are defined as individuals who are physically or genetically positioned between men and women in terms of sexual orientation. Hijras are referred to as ‘khuncha’ in Arabic. According to medical research, People who have congenital sexual dysfunction owing to chromosomal abnormalities and who are unable to be classified as either women or males due to physical or genetic causes are referred to as ‘transgender’. A Hijra, is also known as ‘Brihannala’ as recounted in Hindu mythology. It is possible for a transgender kid to be born in any household, anywhere in the world. When they grow up in an environment of disrespect and mistreatment, they flee their homes and join the transgender community.

In order to safeguard the human rights of the transgender population, many treaties and covenants have been formed over the years. Transgender people’s civil and political rights were protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Bangladesh signed ICCPR as a sovereign country in 1992. Bangladesh also signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which may be used to establish social, legal, and political rights for transgender people in the long run. Over 9000 transgender people exist in Bangladesh, yet they are being stripped of their fundamental rights, such as their CP and ESC rights. Moreover, the majority of them in Bangladesh are punished for homosexual offenses under section 377 of the penal code 1860 indiscriminately.

Treatment towards the transgender community must be as compassionate as possible. Everyone regardless of their sexual orientation should be accepted and welcomed in society’s various organs. Keeping a segment of society in the dark will not help us to build a comprehensive development model. They must be brought back into the spotlight via corporate and nongovernmental efforts. Required training, suitable education, and making them engaged in good work will enable them to contribute in society. The business sector, including non-governmental groups and service providers, may also advance their efforts in this regard through various corporate social initiatives.

The government should establish a third gender welfare board to look after their interests. An entirely new piece of legislation for the transgender community should be drafted and put into action as soon as possible. In order to capacitate transgender people to inherit their family’s property, the succession laws of different religions need to be reformed. Educational institutions should be established for them on a distinct basis. The incorporation of quotas for hijras in both the public and private sectors is recommended in order to guarantee equal access to job opportunities. A complete and accurate record of transgender people should be maintained by the government, and this information should be kept updated at all times. The government should put measures in place in the political and economic spheres that will empower transgender people to speak out for their rights with more confidence.


Shahriar Islam Shovon is a student of the LLB program at Department of Law and Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific.