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Transgender human rights officer hopes to bring 'new beginning'

Graphic: Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity

Tanisha Chaity will bring new insights, especially in working with vulnerable groups, with her appointment to the National Human Rights Commission.

Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity is the first transgender person to be appointed as an officer within the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh (NHRC).

She joined the NHRC in July 2018 as a part of the organisation's plan to accommodate marginalised groups in Bangladeshi society.

Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity shares her story and her insights with the Dhaka Tribune.

Chaity told the Dhaka Tribune that her journey to this point, including her arrival in Dhaka, has not been easy.

"I was born as a male child but, at the age of five, I began realising that I wanted to be a girl. When I was 11 or 12 years old, I started changing myself despite the fact that it was not accepted by my family," Chaity said.

Chaity first ran away from home at the age of 12.

"[My family] kept trying to demoralise me," she said. "When the pressure became overwhelming, I left my home for the first time to look for people like me in the transgender community, where I would feel safe and accepted."

"Hijras should lead lives as normal people," Chaity said.

"The attitude and mindset of society has to change in order to ensure that hijras do not have to do what they are forced to do for money," she said.

'We want opportunities to work … so that we can resolve our issues ourselves."

According to a survey by the social welfare ministry, there are about 10,000 hijras living in Bangladesh.

In 2013, Bangladesh recognized Hijra as a separate gender and, earlier this year, added 'Hijra' gender to voting forms.

Chaity, who has worked for a number of NGOs and is now a final year student in a degree program at Bangladesh Open University, said she was excited to take up the role with the NHRC.

"It is a new beginning for the entire transgender community," she added.

NHRC Chairperson Kazi Reazul Hoque said the organisation was proud to have Chaity as a human rights officer and encouraged other organisations to employ staff from maginalised groups.

"We hope our initiative will encourage other institutions – both governmental and non-governmental – to promote the rights of vulnerable members of society."

Date: 19 September 2018

Image credits

  1. Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity - Screen shot from video filmed with the Dhaka Tribune