Tashnuva Anan Shishir was born as a boy in a remote village of Bagerhat district. While growing up in a backward area of Mongla upazila, the boy started realising that his biological existence stood in conflict with his soul.
As a student of class 3 in a village school, he would like to hang out with girls. Classmates, teachers and neighbours would tease him, calling him a "Hijra".
"With time, my childhood circle of friends and acquaintances shrank. I was becoming more and more reclusive," Shishir said, in a recent interview after taking up the job of a news presenter at Boishakhi TV.
The achievement is a remarkable milestone both in her life and in the history of Bangladesh, as she is the first transgender woman to have gotten the role.
Another transgender woman, Nusrat Jahan Mou has also made history, having played a key role in a television drama titled "Chapabaj". The drama will be broadcast on Boishakhi TV on March 8, International Women's Day. The same day Shishir is set to read out news on TV for the first time.
As a child, Shishir heard her mother say how the family's social status diminished because of her.
Disowned by the family, shamed by society and bullied by friends, she shed tears in solitude but continued to study.
A group of Hijras used to visit Kumarkhali village of Mongla, where Shishir grew up, to play music.
"My family members and locals used to tell me 'If you don't study, we will marry you off to one of them."
Shishir gradually discovered her passion and solace in dance and theatre. But the joy of rhythm and performing on stage did not last long. While studying in class 8, her parents forbade her to take any more dance lessons.
She remembers that her younger brother refused to travel with her because his friends used to hurl insults at him.
After completing Secondary School Certificate exams, she was sent to her paternal uncle's home in Narayanganj to pursue further education.
But the uncle's continuous nagging about her to her family made it impossible to live in his house a year later. Her father's business was going down at the time, forcing her to look for means of income to fend for herself.
Overcoming the challenges this time boosted her confidence and she finished academic milestones one after another, completing post-graduation on social work.
Mou was even less fortunate, born and reared as a girl at a village in Tongi, Gazipur.
"Soon people around me as well as I realised I was neither a boy nor a girl. People told me 'you are a Hijra'". On the way to school, Mou was harassed physically and mentally. While in class 3, she gave in to the terror of abuse and stigma and stopped studying.
Around that time, Mou's father remarried, leaving behind his wife, two daughters, including Mou, and a son. Her mother started raising the children with income as a garment worker.
Caught up in the financial hardship, everyone became more hostile towards Mou for standing out in the crowd.
When Mou's sister got married, her in-laws tormented her. "Their belief was she would not conceive because of me. She has children now," Mou said.
One day she met a Hizra who introduced her to a group of Hijras. Mou immediately forged a connection with them, left home and moved to Uttara to live a life free from the sense of disgrace.
"I am no longer alone. I belong to a community. No one dares to insult me, not in front of us," Mou said.
Meanwhile, Shishir started looking for her true identity. In 2016, she consulted a doctor who prescribed treatment for a psychological disorder.
Her health condition deteriorated; she would feel aggrieved and become angry frequently.
Shishir then sought advice from another doctor and since then she has been undergoing a process of biological transformation.
Draped in a saree, she said, "I introduce myself as a transgender woman."
On completion of her post-graduation, she took a full-time job at a non-government organisation. There, she felt, her gender identity was a barrier to her progress in career.
She eventually quit and engaged in "diverse works" for a living.
Like Mou, Shishir also had to sever ties to her family for they could not accept her as she was.
Her father had a stroke the same year her treatment began and he lost his mobility.
"My family blames me for his condition," Shishir said. She has not had any chance to meet her father after the incident. She only talks to her mother over the phone and sends her money when the family needs help.
One of her darkest memories, Shishir recalled, is her cousin telling her that she was a transgender because of her parents' sins.
In two different parts of the country, the lives of Shishir and Mou seemed to be a mirror image of each other, revolving around rejection and resentment.
In their adulthood, both of them in their 20s began looking for a place where they would belong.
Mou's national identity card says she is a Hijra.
"When I go to a hospital for treatment, the staff behave well until they see my ID card. I notice how their gestures towards me change. Some even ask if Hijras get sick and if they need treatment at all."
And it is not hospitals only, Mou comes across similar unwelcome signs in all public places, which is why she has stopped revealing her identity.
She has had a fascination with acting and met people who offered her roles to play in YouTube productions. But there have been insinuations of physical exploitation and so she has turned down the offers.
A few months back, Hasan Jahangir, director of the drama serial 'Chapabaj' offered Mou the role of a third gender and she grabbed it.
Beaming with excitement, she narrated what the drama is about; a guy falls in love with a girl he has met on social media but she is not a girl, she is a third gender.
Boishakhi TV's Deputy Managing Director and Chief Editor Tipu Alam Milon said the move to bring the transgender women into the mainstream media was part of social responsibility.
"Skill and quality are important to us, not gender identity. We will continue searching for more talent in the transgender community," he said.
While shooting, Mou said she felt she was very much part of the drama team, reassuring her of her self-worth.
Shishir has also found what she was yearning to get; a position of social acceptance.
"As a Boishakhi TV's new presenter, I must be an inspiration for other transgenders to live a dignified life," she said.