Transgender people come from all walks of life. They are Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. They are your co-workers and your neighbors. They are 7 years old children and 70 year old person. They are a diverse community, representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as the antecedents of faith.
The word “transgender” – or trans – is a general term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex we are assigned at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late twentieth century, people who fit this definition have existed in all cultures throughout history.
Despite the greater visibility of transgender even in a country like America celebrities such as actress Laverne Cox or writer Janet Mock, many Americans do not yet personally know anyone who is transgender, but the number of people who do it is growing rapidly. According to a 2016 survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, 35 percent of potential voters in the United States “know personally or work with someone who is transgender.” That’s more than double the 17 percent who answered yes when they asked the same question in 2014.
Now in Pakistan it was officially announced at a national consultation organized by the All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) in collaboration with the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
All possible candidates and representatives of their assigned electoral districts attended the national consultation, where they highlighted their demands and the importance of political inclusion and the empowerment of transgender people in Pakistan.
Some of the potential candidates, includes FarzanaRiaz (NA-33) Arzu Khan (PK-33) Lubna (PP-26) Komal (PP-38) Lady Bhutto (PP-189) Nayab (NA -142) Nadeem Kasish (Candidate for the National Assembly) Ashee (Punjab Candidate) and others.
Legislator demands work quota for transsexuals. The objective of this consultation was to bring all the candidates and other interested parties together at the discussion table, where they were able to share their concerns and the way forward. The main concern of the candidates was with respect to their identity documents, such as the CNIC, among others. Some of them have CNIC in which they are mentioned as male in the gender section, but by appearance they look like women.
Special Community on the Rights of Transgender Persons (KP) and a member of the National Task Force, said that the ECP Act 2017 under Article 48 A and the transgender community are included in the community vulnerable group, which means that they will not be required to remain in line and will be given priority voting rights.
“The staff of the polling station will make sure to cast their votes as soon as they arrive at the polling station,” he said.
The last time four transgender people contested the general elections but could not do so in the correct order. However, this year the community has set up APTEN, which will provide them with a [transgender] platform from which the elections will be held in an organized manner.
“It is time for the transgender community of Pakistan to have legitimate representation,” announcement of candidacy and contestation in elections by transgender people is historic given the staggering rates of violence and discrimination faced by people trans across the country.The Additional Director General (Gender Affairs) Nighat Siddique said: “In the next electoral process, ECP will guarantee a friendly and inclusive system for the transgender community not only as voters but also as candidates.”
In the last elections, many transsexuals in Pakistan wrote the story by casting their vote to elect their political representative. This decision of the Supreme Court was presided over successfully by the President of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Mr. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.
In 2009, the Supreme Court also approved the order to include the category of “third gender” in the national identity form. Transgender people in Pakistan obtained the right to REGISTER as a third gender in their CNIC in 2012. A three-member tribunal of the Supreme Court, headed by former court president Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, ruled that the transgender community has the same right to rights guaranteed in the Constitution to all citizens, including the right to inheritance after the death of parents, work opportunities, free education and medical care.
However, although their rights are guaranteed on paper, members of the transgender community say they do not have these rights in practice and the provincial welfare departments have yet to implement the decision.
It is a great achievement that transgender people have been included in the upcoming elections and the commission will formulate a viable strategy to facilitate trans communities in the electoral process as voters and candidates.