Bangladesh’s marginalised transgender community has finally been granted the right to use their correct identity to register as a voter.
Government officials have given full recognition to the hijras cultural status by creating a specialist “third gender” category on Bangladesh’s national voters list.
Previously, the hijra community could only sign up to vote as men or women – but many avoided doing so because they did not feel adequately represented.
Now, individuals can register to vote using their own identity as a hijra.
Government estimates say there are around 10,000 hijra in the country although the Bandhan Hijra Singha, a transgender rights group, states that the figure is actually around 100,000.
The word hijra is an umbrella term which typically refers to people who are born male but do not identify as male or female.
Some hijra have undergone a full gender reassignment, while others have just had their male genitalia removed.
“From now onward, a third gender individual can be a voter with their own identity, as a hijra,” said Abdul Baten, the Director of National Identity Registration.
“The press has already been ordered to print the new forms. Now they can identify themselves as hijras on the national voters list.”