The seventh population census says the total population of Balochistan is 1,48,94,402. A census is held before elections and then the Election Commission of Pakistan shows the total turnover of the registered voters in the country. Data from Balochistan shows the total number of electoral roles is 52,84,594. Gender wise data shows we will have 29,67,790 male voters and 23,16,804 female voters in Balochistan in 2023. If we talk about third gender or transgenders data then we never find out any new data regarding them. Transgender persons (Protection of Rights) Act said that Transgenders have the right to cast their votes. They have a right to compete in elections as electoral candidates. According to the data of the 2017 census, there are a total 780 transgenders in Balochistan. Of which 489 live in rural areas and 291 live in urban areas.
Zubi a transgender from Quetta said there are two categories of transgenders in Quetta city and Balochistan. One is who made their CNIC with their father’s name on it and mentioned themselves as male or female. Second, who made their identity card as X gender mentioned on it. The total population of local transgenders is about 200 to 250 but only 10 to 20 of them mentioned their gender as X on their CNICs. In our last training with the Election Commission of Pakistan at the regional election commission office we enhance them to make their CNICs with X gender but they refused and highlighted the concerns that they belong to different tribes and they have no permission from their houses to make their identity card with gender X. Zubi mentioned I cast my vote three to four times in the general elections and nothing changes with time. We transgenders always faced harassment by male voters at polling stations. The guards, police, and other administration also laugh with them instead of stopping these harassers. I worked with a private NGO in 2009 to advocate transgenders community about health issues and other things. Before this, not a single transgender person liked to work with NGOs but I and my team motivated them and they came and attended the training but, in the end, they never got any advantage that helped them in their survival. They said it demotivates us. Every NGO just does some showoff but never does any work for our development and rights.
Payal a male transgender said I am a resident of Daybay the area of Quetta city. I cast my vote two times in the general elections but in the last general election, my vote was just wasted. I got information that my vote is on the list of Municipality office but I can’t find my name in the list. Then I checked my name in the polling station near my house but I failed to find my name in the list. I am part of different training workshops regarding transgenders issues and we highlight the issue of making identity cards with X gender. Most of them said that they are going to be killed by their tribal families because they never allow us to show our identity as transgenders to others. Transgenders dress like males at polling stations for making themselves safe from harassment but this trick is never going to work anymore. Some of the harassers give their numbers to our transgenders community and tell them to contact them some other times. All the time it is not just because of their lust or other sexual advantages they also contact us for entertainment purposes on wedding occasions. Because most of our transgenders make their income from dancing and entertaining performances on weddings or happy occasions. While talking about support by political parties he mentioned that only the Pakistan People’s Party gives us some space otherwise political parties never try to sort out our issues. Most of us are not educated and they just try to make money for their survival, they don’t know the importance of vote casting in general elections. I work with private NGOs as head of the transgender community and try to educate our community youngsters about their health, their rights, their identity, education, etc.
Abhishay Basharat a female transgender said I never cast my vote in general elections and I never want to cast it because we face harassment there. There is no mechanism in polling stations to stop harassment against us. No one knows the actual number of transgenders in Quetta or Balochistan. The Election Commission or administration has to make separate polling stations for the transgender community which is easily accessible for them. The Election Commission of Pakistan organizes training to make this process easier but most of them are not aware of biological terms for transgenders. We suggest them, they hire someone from our community who educates polling agents and other members about our physical differences from others and facilitates us according to them. Then there is the issue of identity cards. Many transgenders made their CNICs with male or female gender. Their tribal families do not allow them to show their original identity. A separate option box for transgenders in CNICs is also suggested. Only 66 transgenders made their identity card with X gender.
The total population of transgender persons is less than one thousand in Balochistan, said Commissioner Quetta Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat. According to their population, they cast their votes in one or two polling stations. In upcoming elections, the administration took keen measures and hired helpers at every polling station to help transgender persons and persons with disabilities. On the question of harassment, the Commissioner mentioned it is about your behavior and humanity. If any person harasses or hoots someone because of their gender it shows his/her nourishment and learning from their schooling and his/her family. On the other hand, Balochistan is a tribal society, as a citizen of this province you have to respect and follow the norms and cultural values of the province. If you wear a Western dress at night and go to explore side areas at night then you will not be accepted as a local person and sometimes you face bad consequences in Balochistan because you are at the wrong place at the wrong time. One more thing mentioned by him is that the law of TORTS of Pakistan is not that much strong yet which makes it easy for the harasser to harass someone. These behavioral changes come from education and schools are responsible for teaching ethics to their students. As commissioner Quetta, I functionalized 33 schools in the last three months which are closed because of some reasons. Question about why they don’t make their identity cards Hamza Shafqaat mentions that according to the NADRA’s citizen act you have to make your CNIC then you are considered a Pakistani citizen. After making your CNIC you claim every right you like, the right to vote, and the right to compete in elections as a transgender representative.
Bushra Qamar Bureau Chief of GTV Quetta said that two types of transgenders live in Quetta city. First are those who are by birth transgenders and the others are those who change their genders and made themselves transgenders because of their financial issues. Most of them who made themselves transgenders have not properly registered themselves as transgenders because they make their CNICs as male or female before. One another reason for the increasing transgenders population is most of them come from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for their survival. So, when departments make a list of transgenders many of them are not belong to the local transgender community. While talking about mentioning separate third-gender options for transgenders when they cast their votes in elections, she said that transgenders have a very less population but they have conflicts in their community and it is the demand of some transgenders that they cast their votes as male or females. Most of them make their identity cards with male or female genders. Abhishay Basharat and Komal, both are very active in the transgender community, they are educated and attend every workshop and training for the welfare of transgender community all over the country. They try to implement all practices they learn from pieces of training but unluckily because of disagreement in their community nothing changes.
Former State Minister and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Rubina Irfan said I advocate passionately for the rights of transgender individuals in Pakistan. If someone is transgender (intersex) by birth then we have to accept them and remove stigma from our society against transgenders. As politicians, we must educate and advocate our followers and voters to not harass someone according to their gender because it is natural. When I was a senator at that time I and three other colleague senators, put our efforts into the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act. It is their right to cast their votes in general elections. As compared to other provinces our people respect everyone while we talk about women, transgenders, or any other marginalized community. While responding to the question about the inclusivity of transgenders quota in provincial assembly she mentioned it is very necessary to include them and make them a part of our provincial assembly. Every political party needs to own a transgender community and issue them a party ticket according to their residential area for example if someone delivers in PB-39 then the party has to allow them to serve in their area.
I try to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan for information regarding the issues of transgenders but because of work and assignment loads of upcoming elections, they never convey their point of view. Other politicians of Balochistan they never showed any interest in this topic. I explain my story’s purpose through proper messages and call them but most of them never respond. Some of them are out of town for their political campaigns and other activities. But the point is if we did not take the issues and problems of transgenders seriously then nothing can be sorted out and marginalized communities never get their rights.