Transgender individuals were counted in Pakistan’s most recent national census, the first the country has conducted in 19 years, but many observers think the results hide the true size of the country’s transgender population.
The survey, published in August, identified only 10,418 transgender people out of a population of nearly 208 million.
Mona Ali of the Khawaja Sira Society, a Lahore-based group working for the rights of the transgender community, estimates that her organization has provided health facilities to over 30,000 trans individuals in Lahore alone.
Bindya Rana from Jiya, another transgender rights group in Karachi, believes the total number of trans people in Pakistan is closer to 300,000.
Undercounting could lead the government to justify allocating less resources to the trans community.
A 2010 Supreme Court ruling recognized the transgender community in Pakistan as qualified to receive free medical and educational benefits, be counted for job quotas, and gain access to microcredit schemes and inheritance rights.