Transgender person contesting polls to `challenge stereotypes`

PESHAWAR: The only transgender election candidate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sobia Khan, has said she has decided to contest elections to challenge stereotypes about her community`s abilities to contribute to people`s welfare.

`I have entered the electoral arena to dispel the general impression about the capabilities of the trans community. If given the opportunity and resources, we [transgender persons] are fully capable of performing our role in the country`s development,` the election candidate from Peshawar`s PK-81 constituency told reporters here.

Ms Sobia urged the politicalleadership of the country to give `due representation` to the transgender community in their parties.

`Politicians have to understand the reality of the trans community as a segment of society and should take measures to bring them into the mainstream by giving representation in politics and the electoralprocess,` she said.

The election candidate said that political parties should supporttransgenderpersonsin elections.

She said that as an elected MPA, she would work for the rights of transgender persons, women and children.

`I will concentrate on the development of skills of women and the trans community to enable them to stand on their feet to address poverty and the sense of deprivation,` she said.

Ms Sobia demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan to give representationto transgender persons in assemblies by allocating special seats for them.

She also said she had filed a petition with the Peshawar High Court seeking its intervention for the grant of equal representation to her community in assemblies like women and religious minorities.

The candidate complained that political parties didn`t consider members of her community for representation in assembly through election on reserved seats, so the Election Commission of Pakistan was required to play its role in ensuring their presence in assemblies.

She said the problems facing transgender persons couldn`t be comprehended by men and women, so members of her community should be facilitated in reaching assemblies to take measures for their development.

Ms Sobia said that she hadalready started an election campaign in her constituency and was going from door to door to seek votes.

`The people of my constituency are astonished at my candidature as this is happening for the first time that a transgender person is contesting general elections,` she said.

She claimed that the people, including elders and youth, supported her, so she was confident of winning elections.

`Electioneering has provided me an opportunity to interact with people in my neighbourhood, who mostly avoid speaking to me and other transgender persons,` she said.

The candidate said that her decision to participate in electoral politics would attract the attention of people and politicians to the `presence of transgender persons in society as an integral part` and the needfor the protection of their rights. APP

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