In a landmark decision, Bangladesh government announced that it would include the third gender option on its voting list forms. Starting from July 2018, the hijras will be able to put their name on an updated voter list. EC also said that from now hijras will be eligible to get smart national identity cards (NIDs).
Earlier the form used to have only male and female options but with the Government decision, people can choose from male, female and the third gender option.
In South Asia hijra refers to people who were male at birth, but identify as female. Some of them identify as transgender or intersex, while others prefer the term third gender, regionally known as hijra.
In Bangladesh, hijras have 200 years of rich history. They have different code words and maintain a closed society and consider themselves different from the Western concept of transgender.
The new rule to list ‘hijra’ as an option on voting list form came after a December 2017 Rangpur city council election in which Nadira Begum, a hijra, was a contestant. Begum had been forced to leave her family but later obtained a master’s degree at a public university. Her decision to face heavyweight mainstream politicians created waves in the city and brought huge media attention and although she didn’t win, it was a signal of things changing.
Source: The Diplomat