It has come to the public’s attention that a member of the transgender community in Pakistan has filed nomination papers to contest in the upcoming general elections. President of the Gender Interactive Alliance, Bindiya Rani, plans to contest for a provincial assembly seat, fighting from PS-115 in Karachi — a seat previously won by the MQM in 2008, in the Tariq Road area. It is not too often that we hear of such positive developments taking place, and that is why this is highly welcome news. In a new light, at least there is one disadvantaged community in Pakistan that seems to be making progress in fighting for and earning its rights.
In November 2011, the Supreme Court had ordered CNICs to be issued to members of the transgender community so that they may be able to vote. However, many hermaphrodites claim that not all members of the community have been granted the new CNICs, which list a third gender category to accommodate this group. This is a matter that must be looked into as, once again, something that was promised to the people has not been delivered. What we frequently fail to realise is that we are humans first. Classifications, categories and labels are assigned to us by society. Hence, no person should have the right to disqualify someone as not having the right to vote or contest in elections — or partake in any other societal activity — based on how he or she was born.
All progressive elements of society must welcome this move and provide full support to the transgender community. Should the community receive representation in parliament, their hardships can be addressed and measures taken to minimise them. We should also hope that the future will bring equal representation to other marginalised communities of the country. The aim should be to engage every citizen in politics so that communities do not feel compelled to take the law into their own hands, and so that we can one day have a Pakistani government body that actually satisfies all of its people by giving them a voice.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2013.