PESHAWAR: Hundreds of transgenders in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa missed the opportunity of casting their vote in the general election today as they were wrongly identified as "male" in the national identity cards.
According to the 2017 census, the total number of transgenders in Pakistan is around 10,418.
"The national identity cards with the category of X has been issued only to 127 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," said Qamar Naseem, a transgender rights activist and programme coordinator of Blue Veins, a nonprofit organisation in the province working for the empowerment of the transgender community.
Majority of those 127 transgenders have their votes registered in their place of birth which they avoid to visit because of the embarrassment of facing their relatives and friends and therefore they did not go for voting, Qamar said.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 913 transgenders were registered in 2017 census whereas their total strength is much more, the activist said.
In June 2018, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar ordered for the provision of free computerised national identity cards to the transgender community.
The Chief Justice's order could not help the community to exercise their franchise in the election because of the "Male" sex identity in their CNICs (Computerized National Identity Card), Qamar said.
Transgenders cannot enter a male polling station for casting their vote and therefore avoid taking part, the activist added.
Qamar also criticised the political leadership for not giving due consideration to this issue which has deprived hundreds of people of third gender from voting.
"These votes would have benefited different political parties but due to lack of attention this opportunity was missed," Qamar lamented.