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A community living under stigma

  • Published at 05:00 pm February 4th, 2020
Transgender community hijra
File photo of some members of third gender community during a campaign in Dhaka Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

No group should be denied basic human rights

We belong to a society where there is still a significant gap when it comes to understanding the concept of gender.

We are conditioned to think that gender is binary; however, gender is fluid, and because of the lack of understanding of such a concept, the transgender communities are facing a significant amount of social stigma in our country and across the world.

Our transgender population is a vulnerable group that is often denied social, economic, and political rights, only because they are “different” and hence, cannot be placed under the category of either “male” or “female.”

A lot of transgender people stay concealed or undeclared to avoid further social stigma; thus, it is difficult to calculate the accurate population f this community. However, according to the social welfare survey, there are around 10,000 trans people in Bangladesh.

While transgender rights are heavily suppressed, the government of Bangladesh, in 2013, recognized this group as the “third gender.” Despite this, the efforts to ensure the access, implementation, and execution of those rights still remains a challenge.

According to a research study conducted by Umme Farhana, the lack of implementation of the appropriate policies and the lack of government commitment are considered to be major hindrances in bringing the transgender community into the mainstream of development.

The issue is that a lot of our public policies are very public focused and therefore, minorities are excluded. As a result, trans people are living under extreme poverty and isolation.

It is evident that transgender communities are, unfortunately, quite neglected in society and in order to maximize our impact in breaking the barriers, it is imperative to shift our focus. 

All our efforts for the trans community so far have been so transgender-centric that we often forget that other communities play a bigger role in worsening the issues.

Transgender communities are suffering not because they aren’t capable human beings, but because they are suffering due to other dominant communities being prioritized politically and socially.

The more we focus on familiarizing the next generation with transgender issues, the more likely we can bridge the gap of poverty, education, and health. The development path and the mainstreaming of transgender communities isn’t an easy task to accomplish. It has to be addressed in comprehensive and integrated ways.

The United Nations declared Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) as an appropriate mechanism to solve any multifaceted problems. The 17 SDGs take into account different global issues, which need to be solved in order to promote equality, peace, and sustainability in this world.

The major problems associated with transgender communities that need to be addressed immediately are the lack of authentic representation in our everyday lives, health care barriers, and lack of education.

Addressing the aforementioned three issues is incremental to ameliorating their social and economic status. To accelerate our impact on this community, SDGs 3, 4, and 11 should be the focus for transgender communities. SDG 3 focuses on health and well-being.

Thus, workshops and seminars focusing on prevention and cure should be arranged, so that vulnerable groups as such can understand the prevalence of common diseases, such as HIV/AIDs, and how they can be prevented.

Significant attention needs to be paid towards ensuring access to health care for transgender communities to promote security and social well-being.

Additionally, SDG 4 focuses on quality education. Legislation should be in place which makes education mandatory, so they build the grit and expertise to compete in the job market with other social groups.

Last but not the least, the aforementioned issue of increasing inclusivity in our every workforce can be tackled using SDG 11. 

With collaborative and continuous efforts of the UN, member states, NGOs, the government, and civil society, transgender communities can have a significantly improved livelihood in the near future.

We must acknowledge that some progress has been made towards acceptance for trans communities. Over the years, we have seen the assimilation of Hijra populations into the workforce, as they have been recruited into a variety of jobs, including the police force.

We have also witnessed members of this community being politically involved, as they have the right to vote now.

However, there is still a lot of work to do in bridging the gap and reaching our SDGS. To that end, our thinking and our efforts need serious restructuring. 

Swikriti Dasgupta is working in health care research involving theoretical modelling and quantitative analysis to predict cure time in patients.

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