Tashnuva Anan Shishir made her debut Monday as Bangladesh’s first trans news anchor.
Shishir, who made her debut with Boishakhi TV, delivered her first broadcast, a 3-minute news bulletin, on International Women’s Day. “This could be revolutionary and create a new dimension to people’s thinking,” Shishir told the Thomas Reuters Foundation. “The biggest problem is that people are not sensitized … I hope this can do that, and urge them to look after the many ‘Tashnuvas’ around them.”
According to Reuters, the Bangladesh government estimates that there are 11,600 trans persons in the country, although LGBTQ+ rights groups place the number closer to 100,000. Although homosexuality remains illegal in the country, trans persons have slowly been gaining more rights over the past decade, including voting rights in 2018. This past November, a private charity opened the first Islamic school in Bangladesh for the trans community.
In addition to hiring Shishir, Boishakhi TV has hired a second trans person to work for the network’s drama department. “Our Prime Minister has taken many steps for the transgender people. Encouraged by such steps, we have appointed two transgender people,” said Tipu Alam Milon, the station’s managing director, in a report published by ABC news. “We want the attitude of society to change through these appointments.”
Shishir, who recognized she was transgender in her teens, has spoken about her own experience, which included harassment, bullying, and isolation from her family. She pursued acting and charity work before auditioning for Boishakhi TV. In addition to her news job, she is currently pursuing a degree in public health.
Ahead of her debut, she reportedly told Bangladesh’s Daily Star, “There are thousands of ‘Shishir’ waiting for an opportunity to shine. I hope that this will make their journey easier.”