Intersex people in Bangladesh are subjected to medical practices that can inflict irreversible physical and psychological harm on them starting in infancy, harms that can last throughout their lives. Many of these procedures are done with the stated aim of making it easier for children to grow up “normal” and integrate more easily into society by helping them conform to a particular sex assignment. The results are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are generally no urgent health considerations at stake. Procedures that could be delayed until intersex children are old enough to decide whether they want them are instead performed on infants who then have to live with the consequences for a lifetime. 

In a recent survey (2020) by International Republican Institute on Understanding the Lives of Bangladesh’s LGBTIQ Community, it mentioned that the intersection of religiosity and family honor forced many participants into a tenuous agreement with their families to hide their sexual or gender orientation in public. In the survey, an intersex person whose father is a politician, explained, “If they think of me as a problem for their reputation and political planning, it won’t take a minute for them to kill me. That’s why they used to hide me as much as they could.” 

The participants in the conference were divided into groups and each group had to list what they wanted to be implemented in the next five years on a national scale. The demands that they listed are as follows:


Non-negotiable Demands:

Intersex people face a different challenge as they lack the education and skills to get a job: In a recent survey (2020) by International Republican Institute on Understanding the Lives of Bangladesh’s LGBTIQ Community, it mentioned that because of these employment challenges, 56 percent of survey respondents described their economic situation as “I have trouble feeding myself and my family and buying even the most essential things for survival.” Therefore Government employment must be reserved for the intersex population, especially those who were deprived of education. Vocational training should be included in this process.

Jobs both government and private as well as education system in Bangladesh, require an applicant to note their sex, which is impossible for the intersex population in cases. There should be a simple process for someone to be able to change their name and gender marker based on self-determination and self-identity. Own identities to be reflected in the government-distributed identity documents such as National Identity Card (NID) and Passport. It should be ensured that the gender, the name, etc. of the intersex people will be determined by themselves. Personal freedom needs to be ensured for being able to acquire ID cards in accordance to their gender identity along their preferred name.

An intersex participant in the IRI survey explained, “I am neither a boy nor a girl. The doctor told me that I am a boy. I used to go to the bathroom to check if I am a boy. For the last 10 years I have stopped doing that because I don’t like looking at myself when I don’t know what I am…Our birth is a sin for a lifetime.” Hence no intersex person will go through medical test procedures without their prior consent. It cannot be determined by the doctors or the family. There should be an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, non-consensual sterilization, sex varification test and other medical interventions through legislative and other means. Intersex population of bangladesh should be empowered to make their own decisions affecting their own bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination.


Similarly depression were particularly common among intersex participants in the survey, whose lack of sexual identity caused heightened feelings of alienation.there has to be mental health support for intersex people’s psychological well-being. Collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as well as private organizations who provide service related to this should be a part of the work plan in the coming years. 

Negotiable Demands:

Free and proper health service should be ensured from the government for the old/deprived portion of the intersex community. Intersex individuals’ right to privacy regarding their sex characteristics and personal details relating to it should be ensured while data privacy and documentations relating personal gender history should also be subjected to assurance of privacy. For this reason when going through medical procedures, the information should not go public.

In conjunction with the principles of the Public Statement by the Third International Intersex Forum (known as the Malta Declaration), the intersex community in Bangladesh also aims at ending discrimination against intersex people, promoting and protecting the human rights of intersex people in Bangladesh, and to ensure the rights to life, bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self- determination. Therefore it demands that intersex people should have equal and non discriminatory legal protection and support  in case of human rights violation. 

To acknowledge of the suffering and injustice caused to intersex people in the past, and provide adequate financial and other assorted securities and allowances for the unemployed adult and elderly intersex people. Intersex people shpould be protected against discrimination at the workplace. 

Photo Credit Rasel Chowdhury 2