Socially known as “Khusras” or “Hijras”, the Transgender Community never enjoyed equal rights in Pakistan as not only they faced discrimination in every aspect of life but even kept deprived of being officially recognized as a third gender with a separate identity other than men and women.
Unfortunately, transgender persons are still ridiculed in society and labeled as a stigma.
Number of transgenders in Pakistan
There were only 10,418 transgenders living in Pakistan, according to the Country’s Sixth Housing and Population Census conducted in 2017.
While according to the voter lists released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in October 2020, only 2,538 transgenders were registered as voters in Pakistan.
Prior to 2009, very few transgender persons possessed Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), and even most of them had CNICs with male and female written for their gender.
It was either because they didn’t have their father’s name or there was no option in the NADRA’s CNIC form that identified their gender.
Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling
The landmark ruling in 2009 by the Supreme Court of Pakistan paved the way for transgenders to get their identity and services honored in the Country.
In 2009, the Apex Court stated that as citizens, transgender persons were entitled to the equal benefit & protection of the law, and conferred a number of fundamental rights to them such as inheritance, issuance of a CNIC, and entitlement to jobs along with protection from police harassment.
However, irrespective of the fact that the actual number of transgenders in Pakistan was in hundreds of thousands, only 687 transgender people were registered with NADRA in 2012.
Number of registered transgenders with NADRA
So far, NADRA has so far registered 5,626 transgender persons for free throughout the Country.
NADRA Launches Registration Campaign for Transgender persons
On the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights, NADRA launched a Countrywide campaign “Trans-Rights are Human Rights” on December 10, 2021 to enhance the registration of transgender persons and create awareness.
In this regard, special Mobile Registration Vans (MRVs) were deployed for the registration of transgender persons.
NADRA has also employed transgender persons in its organization as per their qualifications and experience.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018
In May, 2018, the Parliament passed the “Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018”, allowing Trans people to choose their gender and to have that identity recognized on official documents including national IDs, passports and driver’s licenses.
The act prohibited discrimination in schools, at work, on public modes of transit and while receiving medical care.
Human Rights Ministry’ initiatives to protect transgenders’ rights
The Ministry of Human Rights has taken several following initiatives including the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 and the formulation of its rules through national consultation to protect the rights of transgenders in Pakistan;
- National Committee established for the implementation of Transgender Act
- Ensured availability of instructions in English and Urdu for police training to protect transgender rights.
- Organized several workshops for the protection of transgenders from HIV and disgrace.
- Consultations held on the mechanism of sending complaints to Centres established to protect transgenders’ rights
- Consultation sessions arranged with NADRA, Health Ministry, and Universities across Pakistan to create public awareness
All transgenders declared eligible in Ehsaas Kafaalat
In June 2021, the 50th Board Meeting of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) held under the Ehsaas framework approved the inclusion of all transgenders holding valid CNICs in the Ehsaas Kafaalat progra006D.
The program entitles transgenders to get a stipend of Rs 2,000 a month along with savings bank account.
After getting registered for the Kafalat program, transgenders will be able to get entitlement for other related programs under the umbrella of Ehsaas too such as School Stipends, Ehsaas Nashonuma, Ehsaas Interest-Free Loan Scheme, and Ehsaas Amdan program.