Bangladesh’s first transgender news anchor finds healing through acting

New York — A Bengali activist has broken barriers by becoming the first transgender news anchor in her home country.

“At the age of seven or eight, I was raped by one of my cousins… I lost my childhood forever,” said Tashnova Annan.

For Anan, a transgender actress and activist, acting has always been a form of healing.

“I had to run away from my family,” Annan said, “there were a lot of ups and downs, but the play and the dance were always with me.”

The Bangladeshi transgender woman made her Off-Broadway debut in “Public Indecency” at SoHo Rep this spring.

The play explores the strange and shifting life in Kolkata, India, and Anan plays an odd character named Shaw.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about the South Asian context and learn about life across South Asia – this play is important to me,” Annan said.

Annan moved to New York from Bangladesh about a year and a half ago to pursue her acting career.

But she is no stranger to the camera.

She made history in 2021 when she became the first transgender news anchor in Bangladesh.

Annan said: “This is the first time in Bangladesh that people acknowledge that this can happen as well.”

But Annan said those close to her were still not ready to accept it.

“My family used to tell me that you lose our standing in front of society,” Annan said.

She faced job discrimination and barriers to transgender healthcare, but she still persevered.

Misha Chowdhury is the writer and director of Public Obscenities.

“It’s an incredibly rare experience and I think there’s a lot of work to be done to make room for trans people of all stripes, especially trans people from South Asia,” Chaudhry said.

Annan is also making a difference globally as an activist with the International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association.

But acting is her passion. After being abused for most of her life, she’s finally getting the applause she’s been dreaming of.

“If you believe in yourself, you can create anything you want to do,” said Annan.

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