KARACHI: As we draw closer to the general election, 2018 has proved significant for gender representation in Pakistan. The National Assembly passed the transgender persons’ bill in May and a number of transgender candidates are contesting the upcoming polls. However, the transgender community of Pakistan still has reason to be resentful before the upcoming elections.
Bindiya Rana, provincial president of the Gender Interactive Alliance and a contestant in the 2013 general elections, expressed her community’s dissatisfaction at the lack of transgender representation on the current nomination papers for 2018 elections.
“I saw a box to tick for males and females but no box for transgender persons on the nomination papers. I will take this matter to the Supreme Court after the elections but much of Sindh’s transgender community has decided to boycott contesting the elections for this particular reason,” she said while talking exclusively to The Express Tribune.
The transgender community also has reservations pertaining to what they perceive as misrepresentation in the 2017 census. The survey reported an underwhelming figure of 10,418 transgender individuals, 0.005 per cent of the total population.
“We reject these misleading figures,” said Bindiya. She quotes a 2016 UNAIDS survey that numbers the country’s transgender population at 52,646.
“Karachi alone is home to more than 15,000 transgender individuals,” she added.
Thirteen transgender people had decided to contest the elections initially. One of the participants, Farzana Jan, was compelled to withdraw her nomination papers due to severe harassment and insufficient finances to register as an independent candidate.
“When there is no level playing field, there is no point contesting. It’s obvious we don’t come from money, we do not have reserved seats in the assembly, nor is any political party except PTI-G ready to endorse us,” said Jan.
Another transgender candidate, Nadeem Kashish, is contesting from NA-52 on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf – Gulalai (PTI-G) ticket. She aims to strive for visibility and acceptance, not power.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan promised a fast-track provision of national identity cards (CNIC) to all remaining unregistered transgender individuals.
Sindh Transgender Welfare Network’s provincial coordinator, Ishan Ali Khosa reveals that a significant number of the transgender population remains unregistered due to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials’ negligence.
“We’re disappointed but if our vote can make any difference to the future of Pakistan we will definitely cast our votes. At least those of us who can,” concluded Rana.