KARACHI: Despite the Supreme Court's (SC) order to include transgender people in the national census that is to be started from March 15, the forms still do not have a separate column to cater to the transgender community.
The form that will be used for the census exercise was designed in 2010, said a member of census department in Islamabad, Habibullah, adding that there are around 52 million forms for census and it is difficult to reprint all of them again after the SC's orders to include the third gender.
"We will be adding them in the census form manually in the gender's section, where men are on serial No 1, women on serial No 2 and transgender will be added on serial No 3 in the form," he explained.
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Meanwhile, the founder of the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), Bindiya Rana, spoke to The Express Tribune about her concerns over the decision of including them in the census and not taking them into confidence regarding the matter.
There are many laws that are made time and again for transgender people but there is zero work done when it comes to implementation, she lamented.
"They took decision for our rights and we were never asked about the problems that we are facing," she pointed out, adding that none of their community members was called to suggest how they wanted to be added in the form. According to her information, they were to be mentioned in the 'X' category.
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According to Rana, there are around 17,000 transgender people all over the province while only 3,500 are registered in GIA. "Including us in the census will help us a lot," she admitted, adding that through this exercise, they can have a specific number of their community recognised in the system and they can step up the campaign for their rights.
"Census will help us in knowing the exact province-wise number of transgender community, which will eventually help in asking for our specified rights, [such as the] 2% quota [set] by the SC for jobs and reserved seats," Rana added.
According to Rana, most of the members of her community are uneducated and do not know when the census exercise will take place in their area. "Most of us travel a lot for work purposes, sometimes even out of city, too," she said.
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Other than that, the issue of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) is also a hurdle in the system of census for the transgender community. The CNIC has the option to add three categories in the gender – men transgender, women transgender and khusra. "Many of us stopped [in between] the process of [obtaining our] CNICs because we failed to provide all the documents that are needed such as parents’ CNIC, B-forms etc.," she said.
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Appreciating the effort of conducting the census, she said that if the whole system will work transparently, it will surely help the transgender community in many ways. "We will go to Karachi Press Club to protest if the system will not entertain us the way they have promised," she added.
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