Striking Black-And-White Portraits Shed Light On Bangladesh’s Third Gender

“I feel like a mermaid. My body tells me that I am a man but my soul tells me that I am a woman. I am like a flower, a flower that is made of paper. I shall always be loved from a distance, never to be touched and no smell to fall in love with.” -Heena

Bangladeshi photographer Shahria Sharmin grew up believing that Hijras — individuals who were designated male at birth but adopted feminine gender roles later in life — were “less than human.” Their physical appearance, their behavior and their general way of life, she explains, set them apart in her country’s conservative society.

But then Sharmin met Heena, the woman who inspired a gorgeous black-and-white photo series, titled Call Me Heena. “She made me see how wrong I was,” Sharmin explained in a statement. “She opened her life to me, made me a part of her world and helped me to see beyond the word Hijra. She made me understand her, and others who live in her community, as the mothers, daughters, friends and lovers that they actually are.”

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by Katherine Brooks
Source – Huffington Post