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Neither Man nor Woman
Visura Exclusive
Credit: Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury via Visura
Asset ID: VA82171
Caption: Available
Copyright: © Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury, 2022
Collection: Art Feature News Personal
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Topics: Art Civil Rights Documentary Feature Fine Art Human Rights Minority News Personal Personal Projects Photography Portrait Portraiture Sexuality Social Justice Spirituality Transgender

Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury

Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury is a documentary photographer and freelance photojournalist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Though he has completed his Post Graduate in Accounting he was very passionate about photography, he started studying...
Also by Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury —
A hijra poses for a photographer at the park.
Sabina a hijra poses for a photographer, she was collecting money for the park.
Sabina is a hijra passing time with her friends at the park.
Sabina(L) & Anika(R) are enjoying the rain.
Bipasha a hijra waiting for customers at night on the roadside of the park. She works as a sex worker to earn living.
Konika a hijra poses for the photographer, she comes to join a Halloween party in a Halloween costume.
Alisha a hijra poses for the photographer, she took a photograph inside a room. She lives in Dhaka with the hijra community.
Munni A hijra poses for a photographer, she took a photograph inside a room. She lives in Dhaka with the hijra community.
Shohagi lives in Nandail, Mymensingh with the hijra community. She does makeup before going out to the Bazar to collect money.
Hijra loves painting their body, so they have painted each other bodies.

In Bangladesh transgender, people are looked down upon as though they are not human beings and are treated brutally only because they do not have the gender identity approved by society or the government. Although the government of Bangladesh has recognized this transgender group of people as 'third gender' it is not implemented even in their national identity cards. Transgender is commonly known as ‘Hijra’ in Bangladesh. Hijra is also a common term for transgender in India, and Pakistan. 


The sexual identity of transgender is not associated with their birth. The studies show that mostly the hijra is born a male biologically. As they grow up they feel like females. They like to behave like females and they also like to dress up and makeup like girls.


There is no accurate date about the number of hijra living in Bangladesh. According to the research on hijra in Bangladesh, there are approximately 15,000 to .5 million hijra lives in Bangladesh. They live in different parts of the country. Mostly they live in a slum with the Hijra Community.  As nobody wants to give rent their house to a hijra or if they can manage to get a house to live in separately, they have to pay the higher rent from others. 


The Life of Hijra is very difficult. Their struggle starts from the beginning of their life. Nobody wants that a transgender baby came into their life. If any family has a transgender in their family they have to give the child to the Hijra community whether they want it or not. The Hijra community sometimes buy hijra child from their parents and sometimes stole them as the parents are not wanted to give them their child. They have two names. One their parents give them and another one gives by hijra community. In our society, nobody looks hijra in a normal manner. Some think they are as bad luck, and taunt them. Some think they have some spiritual power as they are deprived so Allah will grant their prayer faster than others. Some think their blessings may be good for newlywed couples or newborns as they come and dance on occasion. But wherever they go they are not treated normally like other citizens. 


Although the government of Bangladesh has recognized hijras as the ‘third gender’, this recognition cannot ensure the social acceptance of these people. They cannot study in schools as their fellow students and even the teachers do not treat them well; they do not get good jobs because of the lack of education, and even the jobs that do not require literacy are not offered to hijras as the employers and other workers can not approve of their presence at the workplaces. They do not get medical facilities for the doctors and staff are uncomfortable serving them and sometimes maltreat them. The most pathetic fact is that they do not even have the option to live with their families. The parents, siblings, and other relatives are not comfortable disclosing their identities. So they must either hide the fact about their sex and assimilate or leave the family. Both are, undoubtedly, very hard options to choose from. After leaving home, they can live with the Hijra Community. In every Hijra Community, there is a leader who is called “Guru” or “Maa”. Hijra Guru is scheduling their job or time. The hijra guru has told them everything that they have to do in their regular life.