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Bangladesh’s Hijras Win Official Recognition as Separate Gender

Hijras, a South Asian feminine gender identity that some people who are born male or intersex adopt, will now be considered as a separate gender in Bangladesh, allowing them to identify themselves as hijra on official documents such as passports.

The country's prime minister announced the government's decision on 11 November, 2013, on the heels of Germany's announcement that it will begin to offer a third gender option on birth certificates.

There are currently at least 10,000 hijras living in the country. The decision is a victory for hijras, a type of third gender who identify as neither male nor female, throughout the country. These individuals experience abuse of their rights from family and society at large, such as being forced to live together in secluded communities. Hijra organizations have demanded official recognition as a third gender.

Hijras in beauty contest. Photo taken by Mohammad asad. Copywright: Demotix (18/11/2011)

Hijras in a beauty contest. Photo by Mohammad asad. Copywright: Demotix (18/11/2011)

Several netizens applauded the move. 

Hazrat Binoy Bhodroe (@hazratb9bhodroe) pointed out on Twitter that the government's decision is a big step:

Hijras gets state recognition. It’s huge achievement. Go ahead Bangladesh 

Sabrina Haque (@sab918) hoped that it will be the end of gender discrimination:

Smita Gaith (@smitagaith) tweeted:

Blaque Mamba (@Snoozfest) mentioned:

ireen sultana (@ireen_sl) praised the change:

Congratulation to the government for this decision at the very last moment (of their tenure).

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