Pakistan Introduces New Gender Category

It’s not often that you get good news from Pakistan, especially in respect of sex or gender issues.  Rarer still that you hear of Pakistan not only finally doing what the rest of the world has taken as minimally decent for ages, but actually taking something of a lead.

On the face of it, this is one such story: Pakistan has introduced a third category in its national identity card for transgender people.  I’m not quite sure how far this goes – this story indicates that the law allows men who’ve been castrated to count as members of a third gender, which implies by exclusion that they aren’t allowed to count as women if that’s what they prefer – but, all the same, it looks like a (rather surprising) move in the right direction.

There is an oddity, which is that the women/ eunuchs/ neuters (sorry: I have no idea what the correct noun is here: the Ahmadiyya Times uses the second option, but that seems loaded.  Any suggestions?) in question are employed by the government to embarrass tax-avoiders into paying by turning up at their homes.  (The Department of Embarrassing Transsexual Tax-Collectors has a certain comic aspect to it, but… well…)  Yet bizarre as that is, it also has an optimistic side, inasmuch as they’re clearly willing and able to be public about their status.

If anyone knows anything more about this and the legal reasoning behind it, please do put something in the comments.

Thanks to Sorcha Uí Chonnachtaigh for the pointer.

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