In a welcome move, the transgender community of Pakistan is now part of the national census
Because the third gender matters too.
In a first, the national population census of Pakistan will now count the transgender community in the country. The landmark ruling by the Lahore High Court comes after a petition filed in November 2016 had argued that the country's transgender community had been marginalised, and their fundamental rights should be recognised.
The 2017 census is the sixth for the country and comes after a long gap of 19 years.
Although in 2012 Pakistan's Supreme Court had declared equal rights for transgender citizens, including the right to inherit property and assets, the community was still shunned by the mainstream society. As a result, transgenders were forced into begging or prostitution to earn a living.
This isn't the first time a country in south-east Asia has recognised the transgender community. In 2011, Nepal's census became the first national census globally to allow transgender citizens to register as a gender other than male or female. Similarly, citizens of Bangladesh can choose from three genders for their passports.
India isn't lagging far behind either. The national census in 2011 counted transgender people for the first time.
In India, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August. The bill claims to provide protection of the rights of transgender persons and their welfare.
The transgender community has not only been ostracised by many cultures the world over. It has also been the target of numerous hate crimes globally. We can only hope that this move by Pakistan brings about a wave of change in the region, and helps in eradicating the stigma attached to the community.