The transgenders (Hijra or Khawaja Sira) of Pakitan are very exicted as election day in Pakistan is approaching. This is because of their newly awarded status of third gender (theesri jins) by the courts of Pakistan.
The transgenders, previously dejected due to confusion over determination of their sexes, can now declare themselves as belonging to the third gender – neither male or female.
In Pakistan, there are an estimated 500 000 "eunuchs" or transgenders – a community of castrated men, hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites and homosexuals, traditionally paid to help celebrate the birth of a son or to dance at weddings.
Stereotyped as dancers, beggars and prostitutes, Pakistan’s vibrant but shunned community of transgenders is striking out into politics, with individuals contesting elections for the first time.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan recognised the transgenders as a "third gender", ordering they be issued with separate identity cards.
reported about two candidates from the third gender
who are very optimistic about the upcoming elections in Pakistan.
One is Sanam Faqeer, born Essa Gul in Sukkur, who was thrown out of home after father’s death, spent the next decade dancing and working as a prostitute, invested in a textiles business and started supplying bed sheets and ladies clothes door to door, branched out into welfare, providing care to elderly eunuchs and registered own charity in 2009.
Today, the two-room flat of Sanam Faqeer serves as a home, an institute offering transgenders computer training and, therefore, the prospect of more respectable work, the headquarters of her charity and as a campaign hub.
Having won the hearts of Sukkur’s transgender community and hundreds of poor people, Sanam Faqeer is now contesting in the elections.
Then there is Resham from the city of Gujrat. Resham is taking on the impossible: Going head to head with Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the outgoing deputy prime minister and leader of PML-Q, for a seat in the national assembly.
"The main political parties have failed to lessen people’s problems," she said, leaving her house to campaign against rising inflation and poverty.
"Women who are fed up with the political heavyweights – who win elections from our area but don’t do anything for the people – asked me to defeat both of them," she said.
"I am pretty sure about beating them and getting more than 60 000 votes."
Her immediate neighbours are enthusiastic supporters, but others laugh when asked if they would vote for a transgender candidate.
"I can’t take them as anything more than a joke. They can’t win," says Muhammad Iqbal, a 40-year-old shopkeeper in Gujrat’s fish market.
"Resham won’t get any more voters than sex clients," said grocer Javed Iqbal.
Another transgender candidate in Elections 2013 is Bindiya Rana who is contesting from Karachi.
All the transgender candidates are running as independents, limiting their chances of success.