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Politician misrepresents NADRA data as people who changed their gender

NADRA spokesperson has clarified data shows correction of clerical errors

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Claim: A data table shows that 28,723 people changed the gender they were assigned at birth through the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) from July 2018 to June 2021.

Fact: The NADRA has categorically termed the portrayal of the data as “misinterpretation”, saying that it is “not related to gender reassignment”. A spokesperson, Faik Ali Chachar, told Soch Fact Check that an error was identified in the issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) wherein a data entry operator mistakenly wrote male as female and female as male. The correction was rectified and aggregated as a table, which was later misrepresented.

On 22 September 2022, the Facebook page ‘Shaoor.pk شعور’ — archived here — posted a screenshot of a document in which questions and answers during the 315th session of the Senate Secretariat on 10 November 2021 were recorded. This particular screenshot shows the response of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to a request by Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan for information on “gender change” cases processed by the NADRA from July 2018 to June 2021.

A paragraph under the table states that the information provided “is more than enough to explain and prove the contention of the petitioner”.

‘Shaoor.pk شعور’ wrote the following caption alongside the screenshot, which, when translated from Urdu to English, reads as follows:

Those who are making noise that a transgender [person] can only have ‘X’ gender in their ID card should also look at this. We are not speculating on our part.

Here is the report that the Interior Ministry presented in the Senate on the request of Senator Mushtaq sahab, detailing how many people have changed their gender from 2018 to 2021.

Assigning the ‘X’ gender to such intersex people is unfair and a violation of their rights because people with congenital gender defects are disabled and not a new gender.

After their medical [testing], if they are closer to female, they should be given the ‘F’ gender marker of a woman [on the CNICs] and will be subject to the Shariah rulings for women. If they are closer to the male, they should be given the ‘M’ gender marker of a male [on the CNICs] and will be bound by Shariah rules for men.

Islam does not throw them out of the society but gives them the identity of male or female.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reviewed the documents available on the website of the Senate of Pakistan. We found this document in the ‘Questions and Answers’ tab, this document in the ‘Senate Hansards’ tab, and two documents on Orders of the Day for 8 November 2021 and 15 November 2021 that mention Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan’s bill to change the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.

None of the documents above contains the paragraph in the screenshot in question that states the information provided “is more than enough to explain and prove the contention of the petitioner”.

Soch Fact Check also reached out to NADRA spokesperson Faik Ali Chachar, who confirmed that the statistics presented in the Senate “were misinterpreted”.

“The entry of male or female in the gender [marker] field has nothing to do whatsoever with gender reassignment but it shows the number of people whose gender was mistakenly written as female instead of male and as male instead of female by data entry operators,” Chachar said, adding that the errors were corrected later.

“The NADRA has fourteen (14) cases of gender reassignment, [in] which the medical board of a government hospital determines the gender and issues a medical certificate pertaining to that. The NADRA verifies this medical certificate and, after that, ‘gender change’ is written on the identity card.”

Chachar also explained that the NADRA has registered 2,978 transgender persons to date and issued CNICs to 1,856 transgender persons “for first time registration”. There are 1,035 cases where the CNICs of individuals previously marked ‘Male’ were revised to ‘Transgender’, and 87 cases where the CNICs of individuals previously marked ‘Female’ were revised to ‘Transgender’.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found numerous posts on Facebook — including by ‘Shaoor.pk شعور’, which  received over 560 reactions and close to 430 shares — such as here, here, here, here, and here. On the other hand, this post by Facebook page ‘Lawyers of Pakistan’ received more than 1,600 reactions and over 820 shares.

Conclusion: The NADRA termed the way the data was presented in the Senate as “misinterpretation”, saying it is “not related to gender reassignment” but, in fact, data entry errors — wherein a data entry operator mistakenly wrote male as female and female as male — made during the registration and issuance of CNICs. NADRA spokesperson Faik Ali Chachar confirmed that the correction has been rectified and aggregated as a table, which was later misrepresented.

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