Shahria Sharmin

6x6 Asia Talent: Shahria Sharmin, Bangladesh

“Shahria Sharmin is passionate about the evolution of identity, sexuality and gender in relationship to material culture. Sharia questions negative public perceptions towards the ‘hijra’ (men who identify as women), which inspired her to explore and express the diversity of human identity and to create her ongoing and in-depth project ‘Call me Heena’. She not only brings the story of ‘hijras’ to the viewer but also introduces them in a way that creates an emotive bridge between the reader and the people whose stories are being shared.” Shehab Uddin, Australia, Lecturer and 6x6 nominator

Shahria Sharmin is a freelance photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sharmin is fascinated by the social history of photography. In 2017, she was recognized by the International Photographer of the Year; received a Magnum Photography Award and was shortlisted for Women Photograph’s Grant 2017 with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. In 2014, she was awarded second prize in the Alexia Foundation student grant.

Call Me Heena (Part 1)

“Hijra is a South Asian term with no exact match in the English language. Hijras are people designated male or intersex at birth who adopt a feminine gender identity. Often mislabeled as hermaphrodites, eunuchs, or transsexuals in literature, Hijras can be considered to fall under the umbrella term ‘transgender’, but many prefer the term ‘third gender’. Growing up in Bangladesh, I was influenced by predominant prejudices and stereotypes about Hijras. Then, I met Heena who opened her life to me and helped me get to know the other members of her community. Call Me Heena is my attempt to show the beauty in Hijra lives, despite the challenges and discrimination they face. ” - Shahria Sharmin

Call Me Heena (Part 2)

“Hijras can be considered to fall under the umbrella term ‘transgender’, but many prefer the term ‘third gender’. Traditionally, Hijras held semi sacred status and were hired to sing, dance, and bless newly married couples or newborns at household parties. The project features Hijras in Bangladesh, as well as a number of Hijras who migrated to India to escape discrimination. Many Hijras in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries have stood up for their rights and gained at least limited legal recognition for a third gender. I hope my work will help amplify Hijra voices and inspire Hijras to open even more space for themselves within Bangladeshi society.” - Shahria Sharmin

Discover work by the 6x6 Asia talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.