Transgender in Bhasan Char
Struggle for Acceptance of Transgender Refugees in Bhasan Char
On the remote island of Bhasan Char, a group of 22 transgender individuals, all trans women, have found a semblance of refuge. These members of the Rohingya transgender community have made their way to the island along with their families, seeking a life away from the turmoil they faced back in the Cox's Bazar refugee camps. They are referred to as “hijra” or “nakta fuain,” the latter being a Rohingya term that specifically identifies transgender individuals.
Their life in the main camps was marred by discrimination and violence. Incidents of humiliation and assault were common. One individual recalls a harrowing experience of being knifed, while another recounts an assault that left her with a broken nose. Several others speak of having their long hair forcibly cut off. The culprits of these attacks are frequently linked to ARSA, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
While in Cox's Bazar, these trans women received financial support from Bandhu, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the welfare of sexual minorities in Bangladesh. This funding provided a critical lifeline for them, offering a degree of financial independence and support. However, upon relocating to Bhasan Char, they find themselves cut off from this benefit.
The transition to Bhasan Char has presented a new set of challenges for these individuals, as they navigate life in a new environment without the financial assistance they once relied upon. Their transgender identity further complicates their situation, invariably excluding them from the limited employment and volunteer opportunities available on the island. This barrier not only affects their financial stability but also limits their ability to integrate and contribute to the community. Their journey is not just a physical relocation but a struggle for acceptance, safety, and dignity.
In addition to the main content, I'd like to highlight an exciting new feature in our Rohingya Refugee News coverage: Bhasan Char Diary by Ro Mojibur. This section offers a unique, daily visual diary by Ro Mojibur, providing a glimpse into life on Bhasan Char. There's an option to subscribe to this diary, allowing you to receive updates like a regular newsletter. I'm still figuring out the specifics of this subscription process, but rest assured, I will share the details as soon as I find out how! Stay tuned for more updates! In the meantime, you can access it from the menu bar or the link below.