PESHAWAR: At least 90% of the people who are transgender in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa do not still possess a Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC). This is either because they do not have their father’s name or there is no option in the form that identifies their gender.
“We are only a few dozen who got the opportunity to change their identity on the CNIC as per our physical appearance,” TransAction Alliance President Farzana told The Express Tribune. “Otherwise all of the others who have a CNIC have male written for their gender.”
She said Alesha, a transgender activist who was murdered a couple of days back, did not have an identity card.
Struggling for identity
Chocolate, another person who is transgender, said she is a “trans woman“.
“I don’t accept this identity,” she said. “If they cannot mention me as a trans woman [in the CNIC] then it there should at least be ‘transgender’ written in the space, instead of ‘male’.”
Except for Farzana and a few others, those who have managed to get “transgender” written on their CNIC, have it accompanied with the word “male”, another person who is transgender told The Express Tribune.
Although Aisha has worked at National Database Regulatory Authority, she is still struggling to get her desired gender identity on her CNIC.
She is a graduate who used to work at a NADRA office around two years back. Aisha quit from her job because of the alleged bad behaviour of employees at her workplace.
However, there are many who cannot even their CNIC made because they do not have their father’s identity card that could support their forms. They do not have any documents as most of them were abandoned from their houses when they were very young. There are also families who avoid their offspring in fear of the society.
However, Chocolate said she got her CNIC made with her father’s name and information, but without him knowing about it.
“My father asked me to leave the house, but I’m still in contact with my mother and sister,” she said. “I asked them to hide my father’s CNIC for me so that I could get my own made.”
She added those who have been abandoned by their biological families should be allowed to get their CNICs made with the name of their guru as their guardian.
Loopholes in data
In 2012, the number of people who are transgender in Pakistan registered with NADRA was only 687 whereas the actual number is in hundreds of thousands.
There is no correct data with any organisation on the number of people who are transgender in the country.
Most of them who do have a CNIC have male and female written for their gender.
Although in 2009 the Supreme Court ruled on issuance of CNICs to the people who are transgender, they have yet to be accepted by the society.
This could be the reason that their gender identity is not recognised in the forms for CNICs.
The former president of Peshawar High Court bar association and former Member of National Assembly, Abdul Latif Afridi, told The Express Tribune, “It is a contempt of court that NADRA is not mentioning their actual identity on their CNICs.”
He added, “According to the Constitution of Pakistan, everyone has the right to live and [that too] live with freedom.”
He maintained if they do not have their identity card with their actual identity they would be unable to take part in politics.
Rights activist Qamar Naseem said the government is going to hold census after almost 17 years.
“This census would be a leap forward, as there would be an opportunity for the people who are transgender in Pakistan to get themselves recognised,” the activist added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2016.