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Transgender activist Bhumika Shrestha shines at iGNITE
The second edition of the woman leadership talk series iGNITE recently took place at Hotel Annapurna on July 26. Ujyalo foundation, WOW magazine and Marie Stopes International united to initiate the event which facilitate young women leadership and empowerment. A pioneer program celebrating women’s leadership, iGNITE invites a woman guest speaker to share her journey from a leadership perspective learning about her achievements, opportunities and challenges.
The second edition featured Bhumika Shrestha, transgender activist, involved in Blue Diamond Society – an organisation which works for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay Bio-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) rights, first title holder of Miss Pink and political member of Nepali Congress. She shared her journey of being a transgender and an activist.
She spoke about her growing years and the hardship and confusion of not knowing her identity. Born a male, she felt trapped. School was equally difficult with peer pressure and taunts that she eventually gave up studies. She felt isolated and could not understand why she was different. Bhumika – at one point – even contemplated suicide. She felt it was easier to die than live with shame and trauma. However, she reflects, that maybe she lived for the things she had yet to achieve.
At Blue Diamond Society she came to understand that she was not alone. There were many more like here. She was in fact blessed having the support of her family who struggled to accept her for who she was, but nonetheless supported her. Life was not as kind to others. She decided that there was no shame in who she was. She decided to learn more about herself and her rights, and work towards awareness and activism.
Today, Bhumika is a recognised figure in society, respected and loved. She has been instrumental in creating awareness and acceptance through regular talk programs and initiatives of BDS at home and abroad.
Today, Nepal recognises the third gender in passports and identification cards. Bhumika rues that work opportunities are still missing for the people she represents due to the stigma that still exists in society, and the fact that many are rendered homeless and without education thus restraining opportunities, but she is hopeful and continues her journey with optimism and courage.