The FE back page photograph of three transgender youths extorting a cycle-rickshaw passenger and its puller on a busy Dhaka road is a common sight nowadays. Of late, they have come out on the streets. A number of them swoop down on private cars stuck in traffic gridlocks. And the aggressive ones among them are seen boarding the local city buses. This segment literally creates panic among the middle-aged passengers, because of the fear of their foul mouth and the unprintable slangs hurled at those who do not oblige with their demand for 'boksish'. However, it is the youths who are mostly reluctant to give in to their unjust demand. The transgender people are found getting locked in high-pitched quarrels with arrogant youths, especially students. Youths hardly give money to the transgender people.
The revolting part of the episode is a number of them board a bus in groups. Upon failure to make a youth pay them money, a section of them threaten him with dragging out of the bus and assaulting physically. Many passengers ask the bus conductors as to why they allow these rowdy people to board the bus in the first place. In response they keep silent. Female young passengers do not waste time before handing out a 10-taka bill.
With the Eid approaching every year, the aggressive style of extortion by the transgender members gets uglier. This aggressiveness results apparently from their social exclusion. It's hard to believe that the authorities concerned are unaware of these incidents and the deep-seated causes. However, the government has recognised the transgender people as the 'third gender'. Now a national policy formulation is overdue on the part of the authorities to rehabilitate the transgender communities. The most critical of the issues involving welfare programmes drawn out for these otherwise helpless people is a policy to recognise them as citizens.
They have been constitutionally recognised in many developed countries. After receiving higher education, they get employed in responsible jobs. Even in India, a highly educated transgender 'woman' has been appointed a teacher at a West Bengal university. In Bangladesh, a transgender TV newscaster working for a private television is now a well-known face. The fact which should be kept in mind is no family is free of the hazard of a transgender birth.
People especially those living in the urban areas in Bangladesh nurture a negative attitude towards the transgender population, widely known as 'Hijra'. The trend has featured the country like the others in the Sub-continent since time immemorial. However, the sensible sections of people do not encourage this hostility towards the transgender people. It's because they are aware of the fact that a biologically normal couple can give birth to a third sex baby. Though many would like to call the phenomenon a divine curse, others take it stoically if a mother gives birth to a transgender baby. However, the bitter reality is these babies, when grown up, become subjects of a cruel ostracising. To save the teenage transgender children, families try to hide them from their neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, at one point they have to part with their children. Many such adolescent 'third sex' people, thus, end up being members of transgender slums, or the designated areas. From then on, their destiny is determined by the transgender heads of these slums.
The transgender people and their lifestyle have long been entwined with the city of Dhaka. But their journey is not smooth. Financial uncertainties, including hard times caused by fall in income, evictions and cruelties meted out to them by a section of deviant people are common. The transgender people have to get along with these bitter realities plaguing their lives.