Bangladesh may be set to get its first transgender MP after national elections at the end of last year.
The ruling Awami League (AL) is considering a transgender candidate for one of the parliament’s 50 seats reserved for women, local media said.
These are allocated to political parties based on their proportion of seats won in the election. AL will, therefore, choose 43 women from the political party.
The Dhaka Tribune this week reported eight transgender women had filed their nominations with the party.
Despite recognition in 2013, Bangladesh’s estimated 10,000 trans people still face extremely high levels of discrimination and violence.
Many identify as a third gender, Hijra. Hijra may have been assigned male at birth and live as women. Some also identify as trans or intersex or just as Hijra.
What’s more, homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh under a colonial-era law. In 2016, a suspect Islamists murdered prominent LGBTI activist and editor Xulhaz Mannan.
‘We are citizens of Bangladesh but we have no representation in the parliament’ one of the AL’s candidates, Falguni, told the Dhaka Tribune.
‘There is no one from our community who can understand and raise our concerns. That is why we are running for the seats’.
President of a transgender welfare organization, Arifa Yasmin Moyuri, is another of the AL candidates, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Moyuri led a transgender delegation in September 2018 to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh in September announced its first transgender official at Bangladesh’s Human Rights Commission.
‘I am excited. It is a new beginning for the entire transgender community’, Chaity told the Dhaka Tribune.