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For the first time, trans people will contest elections in Pakistan

For the first time, trans people will contest elections in Pakistan

For the first time in Pakistan’s history, trans people will run for the general elections.

At least thirteen trans people will run for office in the 2018 national elections. Two of them will run for the General Assembly and the rest in provincial seats around Pakistan. The general elections are scheduled for 25 July.

The All Pakistan Transgender Election Network  (APTEN) helped coordinate the candidates. The group include nurses, a lawyer, police officer and a doctor.

a group of people standing and posing for the camera
Some of the candidates running for election in Pakistan. | Photo: Khalsa PEACE & Justice Foundation Of Pakistan
Qamar Naseem is one of Pakistan’s leading trans advocates. He is also a member of the Chief Minister’s Special Community on Rights of the Transgender Person.

He said having any number of trans people running for election was historic given the discrimination and violence the community faces on a daily basis.

‘It is about time that the transgender community of Pakistan has rightful representation,’ he told The Tribune.

Naseem also lobbied for trans voters to be classified as ‘vulnerable community’. This will give them priority at polling booths and save them waiting in line.

‘The polling station staff will ensure that they will cast their votes as soon as they will reach the polling station,’ he said.

Despite violence, Pakistan’s leading the way on trans rights

The announcement of the trans candidates comes just weeks after Pakistan’s parliament updated its legislation protecting the rights of trans people.

It also follows the community’s inclusion on the census and allowing them to have national ID cards in their true gender. These developments have made it easier for trans people to vote in Pakistan and now, also run for office.

According to the latest census data there are a little more than 10,000 trans people in Pakistan. But trans advocates argued the number would be much higher because many trans people were either too afraid to identify as trans on the census or were prevented from doing so by their families.

National advocacy group Trans Action Pakistan claimed there are actually about 500,000 trans people in Pakistan.