PESHAWAR: The Khawaja Sara Society, a newly-formed body of transgender persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has warned it will give a call for protests if the social welfare department reduces allocations for the community’s welfare in the next fiscal.

It also rejected the department’s latest statistics on the population of transgender persons in the province.

Laila of the KSS told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club on Monday that the social welfare department had falsely showed that there were 1,000 transgender persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including 137 in Peshawar.

“These numbers are nothing but a joke with our community. The fact is that from 1,800 to 2,000 transgender persons live in Faqirabad, Dalazak Road and Gulbahar areas only. The tally of those living across the province is far bigger than what is reported by the social welfare department,” she said.

Laila said the department didn’t spend a single rupee on the welfare, protection and empowerment of transgender community in the province.

“The efforts and interest of adviser to the CM Mushtaq Ghani has led to the allocation of Rs200 million for our welfare but the social welfare department miserably failed to use the money for the purpose to our misery,” she said. Laila warned that the transgender community would agitate if funds for their welfare were reduced in the next fiscal.

Another transgender person, Arshady, demanded the provincial government correct the statistics of the community’s population and punish those responsible for compiling wrong statistics.

She said the people tasked with reporting the number of transgender persons in the province didn’t take their job seriously but even then, they were given allowance and other incentives.

Zaiba, a transgender activist, said it was for the first time that the social welfare department had reported wrong statistics of the community’s population.

“On May 8, 2012, too, the department claimed that the province has just 350 transgender persons,” she said. She asked the department to explain what it had done even for the welfare of those transgender persons from 2012 to 2017.

She said the department’s promise of two per cent job quota for the community had turned out to be false. Another transgender person, Salma, said the government had used a flawed mechanism to know about her community’s population.

“In many districts, transgender persons were given forms to fill. However, many didn’t fill and return the forms for being without formal education,” she said.

She insisted that the government had no intention to count transgender persons in the population census.

“We have to go to courts to claim rights but even despite their orders, we are denied rights. Despite the Supreme Court’s orders, the census form didn’t have a separate gender column for us,” she said.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2017