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NADRA’s removal of gender change clause has nothing to do with 2018 trans act

ProPakistani and 24 News publish misleading reports

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Claim: The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has removed Rule 13-1 from The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, allowing “gender change” for transgender folks.

Fact: Section 13 of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, pertains to transgender folks’ right to assembly and has nothing to do with a gender change. In addition, NADRA spokesperson Faik Ali Chachar told Soch Fact Check that the decision has nothing to do with the 2018 law nor will it affect the 2018 law in any way. Rule 13-1 — which called for registration of male eunuchs, female eunuchs, and unisex individuals — has been overridden by the 2018 law as it was rendered redundant, he explained.

On 19 October 2022, ProPakistani published an article titled, ‘NADRA to Remove Gender Change Clause Due to Transgender Act Controversy,’ which claims the citizens registration and database management agency “has decided to remove its Rule 13-1, which allows gender change under the controversial Transgender Act, 2018”.

A day prior, 24 News published a similar report titled, ‘NADRA to rescind Rule 13 (1) of Transgender Act, FSC told,’ claiming that the NADRA “decided to rescind Rule 13(1) of Transgender Act pertaining to change of gender, reported 24NewsHD TV channel”.

The Express Tribune also published a story titled, “NADRA cancels gender reassignment rule,” which was later revised to add more clarifying details. However, many other news outlets and Facebook pages posted the original content, further disseminating the misinformation.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reviewed The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 — available to read here — and found that Section 13 only focuses on the right to assembly of the transgender community. However, this section is not being removed.

Soch Fact Check spoke to NADRA spokesperson Faik Ali Chachar, who categorically stated that Rule 13-1 “has nothing to do with the Transgender Act [2018] or the transgender registration”. According to Chachar, before the Transgender Act of 2018, Rule 13-1 was in place, which came into effect through a statutory regulatory order (SRO) issued by the Government of Pakistan in July 2017. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 overrode Rule 13-1 when it was passed in May 2018.

Chachar explained that Rule 13-1 called for the registration of male eunuchs, female eunuchs, and unisex individuals but with the 2018 Transgender Rights Act in force now, Rule 13-1 has been rendered “redundant”. He clarified that the registration of transgender folks “will remain as it is being done under the [2018] Transgender Act”.

The words “male eunuchs”, “female eunuchs”, and “unisex”, used in Rule 13-1, are not used in registration anymore.

“We stated in the [Federal Shariat] Court that following the [passing of the] Transgender Act 2018, there’s no efficacy of Rule 13-1 anymore, to which the court advised to still notify it nonetheless. Now we’re removing it through a notification,” Chachar said.

“There’s no impact on the Transgender Act 2018, nothing has changed in the Transgender Act 2018, the [national identity] cards are still being made under the X [gender marker] as per the Transgender Act 2018. The X [gender marker], the clause of self-perceived [gender identity], and [the role of the] gurus, all of it is the same as it was before. We are just removing our own regulation that came into effect before the Transgender Act 2018,” he added.

The NADRA spokesperson further said that the Federal Shariat Court “only directed us to notify that there’s no efficacy [of Rule 13-1 anymore]; regardless, the [identity] cards are not being issued according to it [Rule 13-1] but according to the Transgender Act”.

NADRA Chairperson Tariq Malik has also posted an update on Twitter in this regard, writing, “We are complying with the Transgender Act. Transgender opt for gender X.”

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period from 28 September 2022 to 28 October using the following search terms:

  • “nadra cancels gender reassignment rule”
  • “NADRA to Remove Gender Change Clause Due to Transgender Act Controversy”

The first search term turned up eight Facebook and four Instagram posts that garnered 370 and 6,246 interactions, respectively. The second search term, on the other hand, showed 48 and 315 interactions across one post each on Facebook and Instagram.

Besides the Express Tribune (@etribune) and ProPakistani (@pro_pakistani), numerous media outlets, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts posted similar misleading content, including @hellopakistan, @meganews.pk, @megalifestyle.pk, Daily Times, Dialogue Pakistan, and Minute Mirror.

On Twitter, misleading posts appeared here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: NADRA spokesperson Faik Ali Chachar told Soch Fact Check that the decision has nothing to do with the 2018 law, nor will it affect the 2018 law in any way. Rule 13-1 — which called for registration of male eunuchs, female eunuchs, and unisex individuals — has been overridden by the 2018 law as it was rendered redundant, he explained. Besides, Section 13 of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, pertains to transgender folks’ right to assembly and has nothing to do with a gender change.

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