ISLAMABAD: The transgender community has rejected the count of transgender population revealed in the latest census carried out earlier this year by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistic (PBS) , and called the data inaccurate and misleading.
As per the provisional summary of the results of the 6th Population and Housing Census released by the PBS, the country’s transgender population stands at 10,418 — 0.005% of the total population of over 207 million.
While talking to The Express Tribune, transgender activists claimed that according to an estimate, there are more than one million transgender persons across Pakistan, adding that 5,000 to 10,000 are living only in the twin cities and surrounding areas.
The activists also expressed reservations over the procedure adopted by the census teams for counting transgender people – an exercise conducted for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
Many complained that the census staff did not visit their homes or refuse to count them because they did not have CNICs.
Shilpa Sanam, a trans man also known as Fahimo, claims that 500 to 600 transgender people are living in Bari Imam, Nurpur Shahan, on the outskirts of the capital.
“If the census teams had approached me, I would have let them meet hundreds of transgender people living in this area,” said Sanam who not counted by a census team as transgender because according to the CNIC, he is a male.
“Though I am a transgender, I was counted as a male in the national census,” complained Sanam.
Nighaian Kiyani, a trans woman from Jehlum, said the census team did not visit her home.
“It is a big joke that there are only 10,000 transgender people in Pakistan,” said Kiyani, adding that the census teams must have failed to reach all the places where they lived.
Hooram, an intersex person hailing from Hyderabad, also claimed that no census staff visited her house. “The transgender count shared by the PBS contains no data on the number of intersex people in Pakistan,” said Hooram.
Meanwhile, Nadeem Kashish, the founder of the Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (Safar), said that over 300 trans persons alone were registered with the NGO.
Kashish said there were several organisations or gurus, alone taking care of 500 to 600 transgender persons. “How is it then possible that there were only 10,000 transgender across the country!”
“The count shared by the PBS is entirely misleading and inaccurate as the number of transgender persons in Pakistan is increasing with each passing day, “Kashish said, adding that around 11,000 were already registered with NADRA.
Kashish said the government should have approached the transgender community, their gurus and various organisations working for their rights. Kashish also said the census staff was not given any kind of training for verifying or registering the transgender persons.
“Whosoever made a claim of being a transgender was counted as so without any verification,” Kashish complained, adding that several transgender persons, who were mentioned as male or female in their CNICs, were not counted as transgender.
Kashish said that before the census, the transgender community and activists had demanded of the government to come up with a proper procedure for counting them, “but our woes were not heard by the government.”