It’s a historic moment for Bangladesh. In the town of Trilochanpur, Nazrul Islam Ritu was just elected mayor. Ritu is a trans woman and is now the nation’s first transgender mayor in history.
Making the event even more powerful is that Ritu won in a landslide victory, gaining 9,569 votes, compared to her opponent’s 4,517 votes. Even more historic is that the town of 40,000 people is majority Muslim. During her campaign, Ritu ran on a social issues platform that vowed to rid the community of corruption and drug abuse.
Bangladesh as a whole is also heavily Muslim, and trans people are a part of the Hijra, a term for trans and non-conforming people. Hijra people have been officially recognized in the country since 2013, and in 2018 they were allowed to legally identify as a third gender.
Her victory is yet another sign that times are changing in East and South Asia, two regions where, historically, civil rights for LGBTQ people have been limited. However, in recent years we’ve seen nations like Taiwan make large strides in equality, and other nations like Japan and Thailand are now making new laws and regulations to protect LGBTQ people.
According to the Advocate, Ritu stated in an interview with Aljazeera, “The glass ceiling is breaking. It is a good sign…The victory means they really love me and they have embraced me as their own. I will dedicate my life to public service.” This historic moment is sure to open doors and inspire LGBTQ people across the world.