enacting marriage equality and allowing third-gender ID cards across the nation, Nepal is going to count the transgender community in its 2011 census.
Bikash Bista, the director of Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics said, “Earlier, we had only two categories, men and women. But in the upcoming census, we are including a ‘third gender’ category.” This move will allow those who do not fit into binary gender categories or who identify solely as a third gender to be counted. The new category should also ease the path to citizenship, to which transgender Nepalis are already entitled by law.
Nepal’s first openly gay parliamentarian, Sunil Babu Panta, says the transgender community welcomed the change.
Recently, Nepal has been trying to attract LGBT tourists to boost its flagging economy. And really, who wouldn’t want to get married on Mount Everest? Unfortunately, the country still has a long way to go in the ways of cultural acceptance. The government is leaving much of the advertising and outreach to private companies in an effort to get the tourism dollars without angering the largely Hindu populace. So, it might all be a tourist publicity stunt. But hey, we can’t be too picky. Laws are a great way to increase social acceptance over the long term.
Nepal’s neighbor, India, will also be adding a third category to its 2011 census. America, the home of freedom, democracy and institutionalized bigotry, is once again falling behind in its recognition of the transgender community.