Bangladesh government makes Hijra an official gender option

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Hijra
Image: Michael Garten.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina chaired a cabinet meeting which decided to grant official government recognition of people who gender identify as Hijras, people who identify as neither male nor female.

Recognition brings several government related benefits to Hijras including priority in education, housing and health. Their gender designation will also appear on their passports as Hijras. English language documents will refer to them as Hijras as the government claims any English translation would be misleading. The decision was announced by Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan at a media briefing following the meeting.

Hijras already have voting rights in Bangladesh. A survey by the Ministry of Social Welfare says 10,000 people who identify as Hijras live in the country.