23 year old transgender woman Artisha Rajaya Laxmi Rana with her partner 24 year old Armont Samsher Rana who identifies as a gay man. They have been together for six years. Armont says; ÒThey say that couples are made in heaven but we met through Facebook.Ó While Nepal is perceived to have progressive attitudes towards the LGBTQI+ community, Armont says there need to be more work before equality truly exists. ÒWe are happy but we donÕt have the rights to get married. Same sex marriage has not been legalized in Nepal. DonÕt we have the right to live like straight couples and get the legal recognition? ArenÕt we equal like other citizens of the country? DonÕt we have the rights to find our partners? Will the Nepali government listen to our voices? Should we always live like this, without getting married? Our spirit hurts when these questions come to mind.Ó Armont and Artisha are passionate about seeing the fight for equality succeed in Nepal. Armont says; ÒPeople say that we go to America or other places where our love is legal, to get married. But as far as possible we would like to stay in Nepal because it is our home.Ó Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 02.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Artisha & Armont Rana/


“Same sex marriage has not been legalized in Nepal. Don’t we have the right to live like straight couples and get the legal recognition? Aren’t we equal like other citizens of the country?”

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Growing up a trans was not easy for 19 year old Angel Lama. ÒI knew I was different in my early age. I used to like wearing skirts. I was kind of like more into pink color more than blue,Ó she says. ÒI was attracted to boys,Ó she adds. ÒAfter harsh bullies and horrible situations I passed out from school to high school where I could not make friends.Ó  She was forced to leave home at 16 by her parents when she refused to give up identifying as female. For a short time she ended up homeless: ÒI was wandering in the streets. At that point I was totally broken because I did not know where to go and ask for foodÑ I was sixteen and half, and everything was strange.Ó She missed two years of school. She has now rededicated herself to her studies and works part time at Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation in Kathmandu. This year she was crowned ÔMiss Pink 2018Õ - NepalÕs largest and most prestigious transgender beauty pageant: ÒI was once homeless.  Now I am prestigiously crowned Miss Pink Nepal 2018. ItÕs a prestigious stage for transgender women in Nepal. Its a great thing and a great achievement of my life.Ó Speaking about her hopes for the future she says: ÒMy main motivation in life is to make a world a place where normal is not based on gender, body shape, race. But just based on work and your heart.Ó Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Katmandu, Nepal. 29 October 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Angel Lama/


“I was once homeless. Now I am prestigiously crowned Miss Pink Nepal 2018 It’s a prestigious stage for transgender women in Nepal. Its a great thing and a great achievement of my life.”

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It took 27 year-old Maneb Tamang, 14 years to come out. ÒWhen I come to Kathmandu in 2003 I try to talk about my sexual identity with my friends but I afraid so I always hide my feeling that make me depressed.Ó Maneb chose a dramatic way to finally come out. ÒAfter long time last year 2017 I decide to come out with my sexual identity same that time here in Nepal Gay handsome Nepal pageant.Ó He was a finalist and won the Mr Gay Handsome Congeniality Award. He was then asked to do a radio interview. His fears were unfounded: Òby this interview my other straight friends know about me. I feel lucky they message me and call me to encourage for my work.Ó While his friends have been supportive, heÕs still hesitant to tell his family: Òmaybe they donÕt understand it. I donÕt know aboutÉstill they unknown about my sexuality.Ó Maneb councils young LGBT youth through Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation. His struggle to accept himself as a young person means he is particularly sympathetic to LGBT youth and the challenges they face: Òso many childrenÉtheir parent do not accept this thingÉ they have to be outside, they kick out you know herein  Nepal under 18  LGBTI children working as a prostitute because of that thingsÉÓ Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 05.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Manab Tamang/


“I participate this program finally I am select in top 5 finalist and I won a title Mr. Gay Handsome congeniality. Then I face interview on national fm radio by this interview my other straight friends know about me. I feel lucky they message me and call me to encourage for my work.”

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29 year old Eshan Regmi describes himself as follows: ÒMy biological identity is intersex. My gender identity is male. I am heterosexual.Ó He defines intersex as Òthose whose internal or external  reproductive organs do not match the traditional definition.Ó Detailing his early life he says: ÒI was born in 1989 as a daughter in a lower middle class family. I was a brilliant student, and I was always a topper in my school. At the age of thirteen when I was studying in class eight, I began developing masculine characteristics. My parents were in great pain.Ó This is when the discrimination began. ÒSociety began calling me different things. They looked at me differently, and started whispering as soon as I walked by. ÒIs this a boy or a girlÓÑ and laugh at meÉ My friends did not allow me to sit next to them or play with them. Teachers pulled my hair or pinched my breast. I left schoolÉ I started spending time alone. I cried a lot. I felt I was alone in this world. Why is god punishing me? I tried committing suicide several times. My parents were saddened to find me in this condition.Ó His father in particular never gave up on Eshan. ÒMy dad was in pain. Because for whatever I wasÑI was his child and he loved meÉ He realized that I was not like other daughters.Ó And then, his father died. ÒI felt that there was nobody left for me in this world. I felt that I was very broken.Ó Against his familyÕs wishes Eshan left home. He eventually came across Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation. Their focus was not on intersex but through them he started to learn more about the issue. Eshan started doing work with the organisation. On several occasions he tried to have relationship with women, but it never worked out. That was before he was reunited with an old friend. ÒWhen I felt alone in my village a person had helped me in many ways. She was my only friend. Later, I found out that she wanted to spend her life with me.Ó Eshan told her all about being intersex. ÒI warned her to not be closer. But thankfully it turned out that her childhood friend was just like me. She then agreed to be with me. We decided to live together. I dont know how much she loves me but I love her a lotÉ I had nobody and she constantly took care of me.Ó Complicating their relationship is the fact that they are from different castes. ÒI am a Brahmin and she is a Dalit. After my relationship began, my family learned of her caste. They resisted our union but I have always been insistent.Ó While EshanÕs brothers are aware of his partnerÕs caste, his mother is not. ÒI have always been rebellious,Ó he says mischeviuously. ÒMy mother does not know my partnerÕs caste, and she has eaten the food cooked from Ôan untouchableÕ.Ó While life has much improved, it is far from perfect. ÒMy identity has been my biggest challenge. I did not get jobs or opoortunities. I do not have the chance to live a dignified life and have faced discrimination at every turn.Ó Speaking of the future Eshan says ÒI want to do good work for the intersex community. I am in the process of starting my own organisation. I hope that my activism will allow people from the Intersex community to live a dignified life.Ó Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 31.10.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Eshan Regmi/


In many places the ‘I’ is kept separate from LGBTI. But within the I—the same way man and women can have different sexual orientation and gender identity—its the same with an Intersex person.

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A posed portrait of 36 year-old transgender woman Sunita Thing with her 34 year-old heterosexual husband Shankar Koirala and their sons Sudip Thing, 13, and Dipesh Thing, 10. At 12 years-old Sunita, from a poor rural family, was sent from her village to Kathmandu to be a domestic worker. She knew she was different, and wondered why, but knew no better than to obey her father when, at 17 years-old she was asked to marry a woman. It didnÕt feel right to her though, so much so that she tried to kill herself. Soon her first child was born, and then a second. She had started to become aware of the LGBTQI+ community through Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation, and realised she was trans. ÒAfter meeting several people like me at Blue Diamond Society, my happiness knew no limit. I started changing on a daily basis.Ó She then met a man. ÒHis name is Shankar and I fell in love with him. We started living together.Ó This brought her into conflict with her wife. ÒI then realized that it was impossible for me and my wife to live together, because we thought differently. We got divorced and went our separate ways. I got my childrenÕs custody.Ó Everything then changed very quickly. ÒI introduced myself as a transgender women and changed my role from their mother to their father. I started counseling them on LGBTI issues from a young age. I started taking them to Blue Diamond SocietyÕs events. My sons have accepted me as their mother and Shankar as their father.Ó Now they present as any other normal family. ÒWe live as husband and wife, like any other couple. We are happy. It has been eleven years.Ò Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 01.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Sunita Thing/


“My sons have accepted me as their mother and Shankar as their father. We live as husband and wife, like any other couple. We are happy. It has been eleven years.”

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Boby Tamang, 33 works for Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation, as an office assistant. She is also a sex worker. As a child Boby recognised she was different from other boys and girls. ÒThere was nobody like me in my village. And I thought that I was completely alone in the world,Ó she says. At the age of 13 she ran away. ÒI left my village because I hoped to find people like me.Ó In Kathmandu she did find people like her: ÒAfter I met other transgender people, I realised that I was not alone and it made me very happy.Ó Her struggles were not over though. Like many other trans people in Nepal, finding work proved difficult. Soon she started doing sex work to survive. ÒWe are forced to do sex work because transgender donÕt get employment opportunities, and get kicked out of school. Normal girls and boys get work, but we transgender have to face difficulties. Even if they hire us, they kick us out after a month or two. We have no choice but to do sex work.Ó Boby has now been a sex worker for 10 years. Her work has meant sheÕs been arrested 10 times. She has had to be strong to survive. That has sometimes meant taking a stand for who she is. But as she has grown older, sheÕs also changed how she reacts to those who donÕt understand her: ÒIn the early days, people discriminated against us. I used to fight a lot. I told them, Ôwe are humans, cut us you will find blood and shit, the same as yours.Õ I have now given up. How many can you fight? Let the one who says it, say it. I have learned to tolerate their words. They cannot be educated. I am not going to care what anyone thinks.Ó Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 06.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Boby Tamang/


“I realised that I was a transgender when I was 13 years old. I have not studied a lot. And I studied up to third grade in my village. At the age of 13 I ran and came to Kathmandu.”

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wlii-c-180511-nepal-anuraag

Anuraag/


“For the longest time, I didn’t know what it meant to be not be afraid. I grew up afraid of my father, who smelled it in me, who called me a sissy, and told me I should have been born a girl”

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