Feb 6, 2024

Nadeem Khan


QUETTA:

“I will not be voting for anyone. No one really supports us. Our votes hold no value,” says Madam Gul Panrah, representative of the transgender community living in Balochistan. 

The population of the transgender community in Balochistan is small, “we are only a few hundred, living mostly in Quetta,” says Madam. 

The members of her community prefer to stay away from public eye due to fear of becoming victims of violence or harassment. But being few in number does not mean they have no complaints. They have a lot of deep-seated resentment when it comes to being ignored in politics. 

“Many people have come to us, asking us to vote for them,” she says. “But when it comes to asking us how we live, what we eat, how we make ends meet, if we need anything… no one has offered us help,” she adds. 

Transgender individuals often feel that politicians exploit them for their own gain. “We seek representation in the assembly from someone who stands for our rights,” adds Madam. 

“We have always been sidelined,” says Urooj, another member of the transgender community. “No one from the government, the election commissions or representatives of the political parties has approached us.” 

The latest census shows that 14.89 million people call Balochistan home, with over 5.2 million registered to vote. This means 35.48 percent of the population holds voting rights. While the gender breakdown reveals nearly 3 million male and 2.3 million female voters, data on transgender citizens remains unavailable. 

Despite the Transgender Persons Act guaranteeing them the right to vote, the 2017 census identified only 780 transgender individuals in Balochistan. This underscores the necessity for enhanced data collection efforts to accurately represent and address the needs of this marginalised community.

“Sometimes transgender individuals feel compelled to dress up as male when going to polling stations to cast their votes, as a means of protecting themselves from harassment. However, even this offers no guarantee of safety,” adds Urooj.

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