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Bangladesh’s first transgender news reader makes debut

image captionTashnuva Anan Shishir, 29, read the news for a private TV station on Monday

A woman who survived bullying, assault and suicide attempts has made her debut as Bangladesh’s first transgender news reader.

Tashnuva Anan Shishir, 29, delivered a three-minute news bulletin on a private TV station on Monday, International Women’s Day.

She has spent her life determined to study and advance her career so she could speak her mind, she says.

“Today I got that platform,” she told BBC Bengali’s Nagib Bahar.

Around 1.5 million people are transgender in Bangladesh and face discrimination and violence, with some forced to survive by begging or working in the sex trade.

Ms Shishir realised in her early teens that she was transgender but says she has faced “mental torture” as well as sexual harassment.

She felt ashamed that her family were also harassed and says her father has stopped speaking to her.

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image captionTashnuva Anan Shishir was applauded by her colleagues after completing the news bulletin

After fleeing her home town, she lived alone in the capital Dhaka and in Narayanganj. Determined to study, she went on to gain a masters in public health in Dhaka.

“I never left school. My sixth sense always told me to keep studying. If I continue reading, I will be able to go somewhere,” she told BBC Bengali (in Bangla).

“I continued my studies despite enduring hundreds of insults day after day. All I had in mind is that I should continue my study. “

Ms Shishir approached a number of TV stations to ask for work, but said that only private station Boishakhi was “brave enough to take me in”.

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image captionTashnuva Anan Shishir was overcome by emotion after her historic appearance

A spokesman for Boishakhi TV, Julfikar Ali Manik, said it was a “historic step” and that the channel was determined to give her a chance despite the risk of backlash from some viewers, according to AFP news agency.

Ms Shishir explained that she was “shaking inside” before going on air, but that she had “tried to think of stage dramas I’ve performed in and follow techniques I’ve learned there”.

After reading the news, she broke down in tears with emotion.

She says she was angry as a child that she was not an “ordinary boy or girl” but told the BBC that she is now proud to be a pioneer in the LGBT community.

“Maybe the creator created me and paved the way for the development of the destiny of this community,” she said.

Later this year, she is also due to appear in two films.

In 2013 the Bangladeshi government allowed trans people to be recognised as a separate gender and five years later they were allowed to register to vote as a third gender.

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media captionThe BBC spoke to three people from cultures that have a long history of gender fluidity

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