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Transgender activists Riffee Khan, Saima Farhan and Zehrish (L to R). — Photo by Sara Faruqi
There’s a new voter group in town – Pakistan’s transgender community.

in PAKISTAN, 11/05/2013

With newly granted voting rights, members of the Khawaja Sarra community can now vote and contest elections not as males, but rather as recognised members of a third gender.

Enter President of the Sindh chapter of the Gender Interactive Alliance (Gia) Bindiya Rana, a transgender social worker and rights activist who decided to take the plunge and contest elections from provincial assembly seat PS-114. The constituency, also home to electables such as MQM’s Rauf Siddiqui and PML-N’s Irfanullah Marwat, includes several working-class localities of Karachi like Azam Basti, Baloch Colony and Akhtar Colony.

“I looked at what all the other parties said about transgenders (TGs) in their manifestos. They referred to women and children’s rights, but there was no mention of TGs at all,” explains Rana. This is the platform that the activist is running on – the idea that someone needs to give a voice to her community. “They say they want a ‘naya’ (new) Pakistan’ – I don’t understand, where did the old Pakistan go? That’s the one we need to fix,” she adds, grinning.

It was in 2012 that transgenders were given the right to list themselves as a third gender on their CNICs. They were also promised much more.

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