First transgender to lead local government in Jhenaidah
by Sumon Corraya

Nazrul Islam Ritu was elected on Sunday with more than 9,000 votes. She is appreciated by the local community, especially for her philanthropic activities. Bangladesh has one and a half million transgenders. Since 2019 the transgender category is included in the electoral lists.


Jhenaidah (AsiaNews) – For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, a transgender person will hold office in local government.

On Sunday, independent candidate Nazrul Islam Ritu won the election for chairman of the Trilochonpur union council (union parishad[*]) with 9,557 votes. Nazrul Islam Sana, the candidate backed by the Awami League, received 4,529 votes.

“People in my area elected me as their leader with love and trust, I am grateful to them,” Ritu said after her victory.

“I won the election as a transgender person; now I will do my utmost for the good of the community,” she added.

In 2019 the Election Commission added a transgender category to its voter list. About 1.5 million people in Bangladesh are transgender.

In addition to suffering discrimination, they are often expelled from home, and are not allowed in schools and universities.

The third of seven children, Ritu was raised in the transgender community in Dhaka, but she maintained a positive relationship with her family. The 43-year-old eventually went back to her original community 15 years ago.

“I faced many obstacles because of my adversaries, but for the rest of my life I want to work for my Union Parishad,” said the new council chairwoman.

“I want Trilochonpur to become a model. I am pained when I see that someone is not being treated well or cannot organise their daughter's wedding due to lack of money. I want to help people without hope.”

Ritu became popular thanks to her philanthropic activities. She has helped to get mosques built and made donations to local Hindu temples.

“We noticed her dedication and her desire to work for the people,” a supporter said.

[*] The area under a union parishad includes several villages.