Nadira Begum is causing quite the sensation during local council elections in the Bangladesh city of Rangpur.
Begum is a trans woman running for a councillor’s position in the Rangpur City Corporation’s election.
When her candidacy was confirmed, she hit the campaign trail hard and quickly became popular with the local voters.
‘Voters accepted me more than I expected,’ Begum told the Dhaka Tribune.
‘I am receiving a good response from people of all strata and they are helping me in many ways. Many women are voluntarily coming to my aid in the electoral campaign.’
Begum overcame a trouble childhood where she was exiled from her family because of her gender identity. She said she faced discrimination and stigma when looking for work.
But she overcame all of that to attend university and graduate with a Masters degree in 1999.
She has worked as a social worker and is known to constituents as someone who is always on hand to help solve any problems her local community may face.
‘Whenever someone is in trouble, she rushes to solve the problem. This is why she deserves our votes,’ said local woman Momtaj Begum.
The candidate also wants to use her platform to progress trans rights in the South Asian country. In 1999 she opened an organization to advocate for trans rights.
‘My dream is to ensure that every Hijra (trans person) living in Rangpur has a place to live,’ she said.
The election was held on Thursday, with results expected to be released in the coming days.
In 2013, the Bangladesh government recognized the Hijra as a seperate, third gender.