Abused Transsexuals in Malaysia
We have long heard about males changing their sex to females and this started a few decades back in Malaysia. Nowadays, there are still males ranging from the age of eighteen to forty who have undergone gender reassignment, a surgical alteration of their genital organ and this is usually paired with hormone therapy to change their sex. These processes usually take months or years because of its complexity and often bring side effects to the person. These people do this because they have the desire to be the opposite sex, which is to be female. Most of them become transgendered because they ignore conventional ideas about how males and females should look and behave (Macionis, 2006). They are called “she-males” in some parts of the world and they are only hoping for a joyful sense of becoming the person they feel inside. The problem is that, are Malaysians treating them equally or abusing the “third gender” and are we willing to accept them in our community? According to Macmillan English Dictionary (2007), gender means “the fact of being either male or female”. The term “abuse” means cruel, violent, or unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it from happening. It is stated that the word “accept” means “to allow someone to become part of community or a family, and make them feel welcome”. Macionis (2006) states that “transsexuals are people who feel they are one sex even though biologically they are the other”. In this essay, I would like to discuss how Malaysians treat these unique kinds of people. First of all, I would like to state my strong conviction to the statement that Malaysians are actually abusing these transgendered people.
Some of these transgendered are not accepted in the society. They are called freaks by some people and are ill-treated in their own country. Some of them are also rejected by their own families and live as outcasts. Transgendered people are often the victims of physical and verbal harassment by the public, police and religious authorities (Reuters, 2007). This problem occurs because some sensitive Malaysians still cannot accept what these people have done, which is changing their sex. For Muslims, they know that changing sex by operation is a taboo and these people are actually committing a serious sin. This matter is very grave because it is violating their right as human beings even though they have committed a serious mistake. By alienating these people, it will eventually make them have a low self-esteem and they might avoid from socializing with others because they have no place in society. I believe that if we accept them for being who they are, be their friends and cater to their needs for a better social environment, they will feel wanted by the society.
Secondly, these transsexuals are often associated with prostitution. This is much unmerited because not all of them are involved in that degrading profession and they become transgendered not only to offer sex services. They are prohibited from working because they are neither male nor female so the employers find it hard to hire them because their gender status cannot be determined. There are also employers who think that hiring them is not advisable because they are associated with moral issues and might affect the company one day. As a result, there will be more cases of unemployed transgendered people. Some will have to work as social workers, prostitutes, bartenders in night clubs and drug dealers. Khartini Slamah, as cited from Reuters (2007) was a dutiful Muslim son by day and a prostitute by night and he will be waiting for customers on the streets of Malaysian capital to offer his service. He found it hard to work as he was turned down because of his sexuality. This problem can be corrected if they are trained with skills according to their liking. Some of them do well in female dominated careers such as cooking, grooming and even fashion designing. I believe that these people can be very successful because they have these skills naturally in their blood and they just lack support to show their skills.
Thirdly, I think that transsexuals in Malaysia are not given equal rights compared to normal male and female citizens. As stated in their identity card, they are still regarded as male even though they dress like real women. They feel that they are still not fully accepted by Malaysian administration, specifically the National Registration Department. Malaysian authority prevents the transsexuals from having their own identity. Even in identification cards, there will only be “male” and “female” allowed to be written on it. In Pakistan, transsexual communities called “khusra” are attempting to state issued identity cards so that they can be called as “third gender” or maybe just “other”, (New Straits Times, 2010). These people have to vote during elections as male and they feel offended because they are still not accepted as the third gender. Joseph (2010) mentioned that dealing with immigration authorities will also be a major problem to the transsexuals. Their name on the passport probably will not match with some of their physical appearances. I believe that these people should be given a new identity card with a new identity since they had changed their sexual organs and personality just to avoid confusion, and this will make them feel that they have a place in society.
Transsexuals also cannot get married in Malaysia. This is because Malaysia is a multiracial Asian country which still thinks that same-sex marriage is prohibited and is against the laws and norms of the people. For me, I think it is violating their rights as humans but for Muslims; this will be a major sin for the doer and for those who let same-sex marriage happen. As a solution, maybe we can make it happen for other races in Malaysia; if it is not against their religion. In Indonesia, Dorce Gamalama, a singer, a talk-show host and also transsexuals has been married twice, both times to men (Finkel, 2009). Surprisingly, Fatine Young, born as Mohammed Fazdil Min Bahari married Briton Ian Young and made headline news recently after he was issued a certificate by the British Home Office (Joseph, 2010). Fatine states that most people are confused between marriage and civil partnership. He told that civil partnership is actually an agreement which validates his relationship with his partner, Ian within the civil laws of England (Najiah, 2009). I strongly believe that civil marriage for other races can be happening in Malaysia except for Muslims because I think that will go over the boundaries Muslims should obey.
As a conclusion, I think that most Malaysians are now abusing the rights of these transsexuals. By realizing it or not, Malaysian seems to forget that transsexuals are also normal human beings who choose the best for themselves. As a responsible Malaysian, we must respect their choice and be tolerant or accept them. These people should be treated with love and care. We should realize that we are violating their right as Malaysian citizens if we ignore and abuse them physically or mentally. All of us can live in a better world if we accept each other, and not abuse one another.
Anonymous. (2010, February 8). 'Third gender' seeks acceptance. New Straits Times , 25.
Finkel, M. (2009, October). National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from Facing Down The Fanatics: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2009/10/indonesia/finkel-text
Joseph, S. (2010, January 13). United Press International, Inc. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from Blogosphere: http://www.upiasia.com/Blogosphere/Sekina/20100104/malaysia_transsexuals_should_be_treated_fairly/
Macionis, J. J. (2006). Society. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Najiah. (2009, December 14). Malay Mail Online. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from Fatine remains resilient: http://www.mmail.com.my/content/21753-fatine-remains-resilient
Reuters. (2007, September 3). Retrieved February 18, 2010, from Malaysia's Muslim transsexuals bettle sex change woes: http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=f9971f0e-72c9-48bf-b343-40f79f93401e&sponsor=
Rundell, M. (2007). Macmillan English Dictionary For Advanced Learners. Oxford: Macmillan Publishers Limited.