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PHOTOS: Bangladeshi Hijras Show Their Pride

PHOTOS: Bangladeshi Hijras Show Their Pride


One year after the Bangladesh government formally recognized a third gender, the nation's hijras celebrated with their first-ever Pride parade.

It's been a year since the south Asian nation of Bangladesh formally recognized a third gender, giving unprecedented visibility for individuals known locally as hijra.

More than 1,000 people took to the streets of Dhaka on Monday to participate in the country's first Pride march, reports U.K. LGBT outlet PinkNews.Participants wore bright, colorful saris and reportedly marched through the streets carrying signs, one of which read "The days of stigma, discrimination, and fear are over." The day's festivities also included a talent show

While typically understood in Western cultures to broadly equate with transgender women, hijra may also identify as intersex or nonbinary, embracing local comprehension of gender identity that differs vastly from European conceptions. Hijra is generally understood to be a feminine gender identity.

A 25-year-old hijra named Sonali told Agence France Presse that she never imagined a day where she would see such a rally.

"We are stigmatized everywhere," Sonali explained to AFP. "We are discriminated against. We are laughed at just because we do not feel like a man or a woman. But today is different. We feel like we're normal human beings."

The predominantly Muslim nation of roughly 156 million contains somewhere between 15,000 and half a million hijra, according to government statistics and activist estimates collected by AFP. Last November, the government began recognizing hijra as third gender, giving the individuals access to official, state-recognized documentation that accurately reflects an individual's identity.

See a sampling of photos from the first-of-its-kind event in Bangladesh below.

458742198x633_0_0 A Bangladeshi hijra holds a national flag as she dances during a rally to mark the first ever nationwide program to observe 'Hijra Day' in Dhaka on November 10.

458742172x633_0_0 Preparations include the application of dazzling make-up prior to the events.

458682874x633_0_0 A Bangladeshi transgender woman applies a henna mehndi on a woman's hand as a part of the first ever nationwide program to observe Hijra Day.

458742176x633_0 A Bangladeshi hijra holds a national flag during a rally in Dhaka to mark the first ever nationwide Hijra Day.

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