Bangladesh’s first transgender news reader ’emotional’ after TV debut

Bangladesh’s first transgender news anchor Tashnuva Anan Shishir (AP)
3:07am, Wed 10 Mar 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Bangladesh’s first transgender news anchor said she hopes to change society after making her TV debut on International Women’s Day.

Tashnuva Anan Shishir, who previously worked as a rights activist and actress, debuted on Dhaka-based Boishakhi TV on Monday.

She read a three-minute news bulletin and, after finishing, cried as her colleagues applauded and cheered.

The 29-year-old said: “I was very nervous, I was feeling so much emotional, but I had in my mind that I must overcome this ordeal, this final test.”

Shishir, who previously worked as a rights activist and an actor, appeared before audience on Monday (AP)

Born Kamal Hossain Shishir, she said she found in her early teens that she was stuck in a man’s body and behaved like a woman.

She said family members, relatives and neighbours started teasing her and she was bullied and sexually exploited, and felt it was impossible to continue living.

The worst thing that happened was her father stopped talking to her, saying she was the reason that her family was losing face, Shishir said.

“I left home,” she said.

She moved from her family’s house in a southern coastal district to live a solitary life in the capital, where she underwent hormone therapy, worked for charities and acted with a local theatre group.

In January, she began studying public health at a Dhaka university, which she is continuing alongside her job at the TV station.

We have appointed two transgender people, we want the attitude of society to change through these appointments

Bangladesh officially has more than 10,000 transgender people, but activists say the actual number is much higher in the nation of more than 160 million people.

The LGBT community faces social isolation, sexual abuse and other forms of harassment.

Boishakhi TV said it wanted to be part of the changes and has hired a second transgender person in its drama department.

Tipu Alam Milon, the station’s deputy managing director, said: “Our prime minister has taken many steps for the transgender people. Encouraged by such steps, we have appointed two transgender people, we want the attitude of society to change through these appointments.”

Sign up to our newsletter