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Bangladeshi Transgenders Ignored By Nation's Census

by Tanya Thomas on March 24, 2011 at 9:32 AM
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 Bangladeshi Transgenders Ignored By Nation's Census

Bangladesh's transgender community lodged complaints on Tuesday that officials were refusing to count them during a national census.

About 300,000 census takers are going door-to-door across the country of 146 million people, but many transvestites, eunuchs and asexual people say they are being ignored because they do not fit into strict gender categories.

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"They have counted only a few of us," Pinky, who only uses one name and is director of transgender rights group Badhan Hijra Sangha, told AFP.

"We have said time and again that we are neither male, nor female. We should be categorised as 'other' or transgender."

Transgender people in Bangladesh, a Muslim country, have lobbied for years to be categorised as "other" when declaring their gender on census and other official documents.
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One complaint lodged with the state-run National Human Rights Commission claimed that only 10 out of 175 transgender people in a community building were counted.

Shahjahan Mollah, head of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, which is carrying out the census, dismissed allegations of undercounting but confirmed that transgender people could only be registered as male or female.

"We are counting the people of all 27 small ethnic groups in Bangladesh. Our census takers have visited all people including the transgender to count them," he said.

India's latest census, which is ongoing, offers transgenders the chance to chose "other" as a gender category. The same change has been made in Nepal.

Bangladesh launched its census on March 15 with a ceremonial counting of the families of the president and the prime minister.

Across South Asia, transgender communities are among the most marginalised and discriminated groups in traditionally hierarchical, conservative societies.

Source: AFP
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