Being Hijra

A Story of Gender Identity Struggles and Discrimination in Bangladesh

From the filmmaker: Whilst photographing the Bede (river gypsy) people in Bangladesh I came across a small commune of transgender people and I was invited over to hear about their struggle with gender identity and discrimination. Often the doctors would identify them as "different" at a young age and they would be removed from their families to be raised by other Hijras in a small communal house. Before I went to interview three of the women, I encountered their prejudice for myself. I was continually warned not to drink or eat anything that they gave me as I would be drugged and not to look into their eyes for fear of falling under their hypnotic spell after which they would commence to rob me. In a pioneering move, the Bangladeshi government extended the recognition of Hijra people as a ‘third gender’ in November 2013. The measure is aimed at ending discrimination and extending state benefits, though the deep rooted social discrimination is likely to take a long time to dissipate. This is a short multimedia piece telling the story of one of the women. She chose to keep her name anonymous.


Courtesy of  Hanna Adock

Music by Ivan Chew


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