When Bhumika Shrestha was little she loved to dress up in her mother’s clothes and wear her sister’s lipstick. Her parents did not see a problem in their son wanting to dress-up. He was just a little kid after all. But Bhumika, then called Kailash, didn’t grow out of it. When she became a teenager she knew for sure that she didn’t want to be a boy anymore, but a lady.
“My family gave me a boy’s name, Kailash. I didn’t like it because when I grew up my feelings and my way of thinking was totally a woman. I didn’t know why, but I felt like a girl,” says Bhumika Shrestha.
Last year the Nepalese government announced it would be the first country to include a third gender in its national census. It was a landmark announcement that citizens no longer had to conform to either the male or female box on the questionnaire. But unfortunately, to date this census has not resulted in a clear count of transgender people in Nepal.
The Blue Diamond Society (BDS), an organization for the LGBT community, has nearly 400,000 officially registered members.
Since the organization was founded in 2001 by Sunil Pant, it has been extremely successful in advocating the rights of the community.
Bhumika Shrestha is an example of this success. From being taunted by her community when she was younger, she is now an avid spokesperson for the BDS, and the country’s first transgender politician.
“In Nepali society, especially in my village, people do not understand. When I walk around, people look at me and start laughing,” Bhumika explains how it wasn’t easy for her to grow up in a small village.
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