Adopt an evidence and rights based approach in addressing the increasing violence against trans and gender diverse persons

In conjunction with Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on 20 November 2019, we commemorate the lives of trans and gender diverse persons lost to hate crimes and anti-transgender violence. 

According to the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM), globally, 350 trans and gender diverse people were reportedly murdered between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020, a 6% increase in reported murders from last year. The report shows: 

  • 98% of those murdered globally were trans women or trans feminine people;
  • 62% of murdered trans people whose occupation is known were sex workers;
  • 38% of the murders took place on the street and 22% in their own residence;
  • The average age of those murdered is 31 years old; the youngest being 15 years old.

In Malaysia, at least 2 cases of murder of trans women were reported between November 2019 and October 2020:

May/June 2020 – a trans woman from Indonesia was found dead in her room after she went missing for a few days. Her neighbours noticed the odor of her decomposing body and notified the police. She was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, who is also a foreigner. 

June 2020 – a young trans woman in Johor Bahru was found dead in her home after her friends contacted her house owner as she was ‘missing ‘ for a few days. The case was investigated by the police. The outcome of the case is unknown. 

These are some key cases and trends of violence against trans women that we have documented in 2020:

  1. Violence by family members. In January 2020, a young trans woman’s plea for help circulated in WhatsApp groups and social media. She was physically assaulted and imprisoned in her house by her family members. The police, who had initially made a home visit reportedly threatened to arrest and beat up the victim if she continues to be herself. They advised her to listen to the family members. Following some interventions by human rights groups, the police rescued the young trans woman. 
  1. Violence from members of the public. In February 2020, three cases of physical assaults by groups of men were reported – two cases occurred in Kedah and one case in Perak. The cases involve stabbing and physical assaults. In one of the cases in Kedah, the trans woman was assaulted by a group of men pretending to be police officers in a public place. In the case in Perak, a trans woman was assaulted with a metal rod. Of the 3 cases, only one of them lodged a police report. The outcomes of the case are unknown. The other two did not lodge a police report due to trauma and fear of self-incrimination. 
  1. Trans women sex workers are especially vulnerable to violence. A number of cases of assault by clients or people pretending to be clients have been reported all over Malaysia. The criminalisation of sex work and transgender women under the law create multiple barriers for trans women sex workers to access redress and report cases of violence. 
  1. The sexual objectification and stereotype of trans women as sex workers increases their vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment in public, private, online and other spaces. This includes among others, being stalked, harassed, molested, and flashed. In one case, a trans woman who owns a shop faced sexual harassment and violence by multiple men who visit her shop. In another case, a man broke into a trans woman’s house multiple times to coerce her into having sex with him. She eventually moved to a different state to escape the harassment. Both women did not report the cases due to personal previous negative experience with the police when lodging police reports, fear of victim blaming, lack of confidence in the police, among others.
  1. Trans women are vulnerable to doxxing and having their photos being used for online scams. In several cases, trans women have been confronted by strangers who were affected by the scam with hostility, increasing concerns of violence. 

Trans and gender diverse people are also hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Aside from being disproportionately affected economically, many trans and gender diverse living with unaccepting family members are vulnerable to violence and increased mental health issues. SEED Malaysia observes an increase in trans women seeking shelter due to violence and lack of acceptance by family members.

Our documentation shows while trans and gender diverse persons face multiple forms of violence, most cases are not reported. Many trans women, especially sex workers lack access to justice due to the multiple forms of criminalisation under the laws, state policies that promote ‘rehabilitation’, and the increasing social stigma, perception and attitudes towards transgender people. 

In addition, previous negative and traumatic experiences with the police and state officials deter trans and gender diverse persons from seeking support and assistance. As a result, these violence that could have been prevented, are prolonged with impunity and remain invisible. Further, trans and gender diverse persons are burdened to resolve the violence and violations that they face on their own, deepening their marginalisation.

The sense of marginalisation, neglect, and lack of security and safety experienced by trans and gender diverse persons is further aggravated by exclusionary, non evidence and rights based statements by state actors. In line with the government’s vision of shared prosperity and commitment to leave no one behind, we recommend:

  1. Human rights and gender sensitisation training for police officers and government staff to reduce stigma and mistreatment against trans and gender diverse persons. 
  2. Cases of crimes against trans and gender diverse persons are currently recorded based on their gender identity, instead of according to the assigned identity on the national registration identity card (NRIC). As a result, there is a lack of documentation and analysis of cases of crimes against trans and gender diverse persons. 
  3. Allow trans and gender persons to change their gender marker on their legal documents
  4. The government to implement the CEDAW Concluding Observation in relation to trans women, which include: 
    • Adopt anti-bullying policies based on alternative strategies to address bullying, such as counselling services and positive discipline, and undertake awareness-raising measures to foster equal rights for LBTI students;
    • Amend all laws which discriminate against LBTI women, including the provisions of the Penal Code and Syariah laws that criminalise same-sex relations between women and ‘cross-dressing’;
    • Apply a policy of zero-tolerance with regard to discrimination and violence against LBTI women, including by prosecuting and adequately punishing perpetrators;
    • Expedite measures to discontinue all policies and activities which aim to “correct” or “rehabilitate” LBTI women.

download & share these Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) visuals

In conjunction with Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on 20 November 2019, we commemorate the lives of trans and gender diverse persons lost to hate crimes and anti-transgender violence.

This year, at least 2 cases of murder of trans women were reported and many cases of hate crimes were documented in Malaysia. Globally, 350 trans and gender-diverse people registered murdered between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020. Of which,

  • 98% of those murdered globally were trans women or trans feminine people;
  • 62% of murdered trans people whose occupation is known were sex workers

Together we can end violence against trans and gender diverse persons in Malaysia and globally. We encourage you to download and share these visuals via social media or other platforms with your friends and family members to help raise awareness regarding the violence experienced by trans and gender diverse people.

TDoR visuals in BM

TDoR visuals in English

Respect trans women & end all prosecution against them

We are deeply concerned by a raid of a birthday party by the Kedah Islamic Department on 27 October 2020, where 30 transgender women attendees of the 100 attendees were singled out and given notice to report back at the Kedah Islamic Department on separate dates to be investigated under Section 26, which penalises ‘male persons wearing female attire in a public place’.

The organiser, who was celebrating his birthday, was also handed a notice to report back to the department to be investigated under Section 31 for ‘encouraging vice’. 

The raid also resulted in the private event being abruptly ended due to instructions by the state Islamic Department. The raid was carried out with the police, and news reports suggest that some media outlets were also present at the raid.

Following the constitutional review of Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment in 2015, there has been a significant reduction of cases of arrest under the ‘posing as a man’ state enactments based on our collective monitoring. However, we have observed a resurgence  of raids and arrests of transgender women in the last year. In most cases, the raids are a result of an alleged ‘tip-off’ or complaint, and the trans women are mostly subjected to ‘counselling’. This is a concerning trend.

Trans women are women & gender is diverse

First and foremost, trans women are not pretending, posing or acting as women. They are women, and as such express themselves in a way that is authentic and representative of who they are and their identity. There is countless evidence in history, science and other fields that clearly show the existence of gender diversity through the ages and that gender diversity is a normal occurrence in life.

As such, arresting and subjecting transgender women to counselling or any punishment or correction because of their gender identity and gender expression is deeply unnecessary and is a gross violation of human rights. 

While compliance with even the Standard Operating Procedures by the arresting agency is imperative, our fundamental concern is with the very act of arresting, summoning, investigating or prosecuting trans women based on their gender identity and gender expression. These actions have a wide-ranging impact and a chilling effect on the rights of transgender women, in particular, their right to live with dignity, restriction of public participation, access to social and cultural life, and right to privacy, among others.

Inconsistencies of Section 26 of the Kedah Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment and similar laws with the Federal Constitution

Section 26 of the Kedah Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment and similar laws that prohibit non-cisnormative gender identity and gender expression violate multiple fundamental rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and continue to arbitrarily prosecute transgender women for being who they are.

We recall the landmark Court of Appeal’s decision on Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment. Section 26 of the Kedah Syariah Criminal Enactment is worded similarly as the previous version of Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Enactment. In the decision, which was later set aside by the Federal Court on procedural grounds, the Court of Appeal found Section 66 to be inconsistent with the following articles in the Federal Constitution:

–     Article 5 safeguards the rights to personal liberties, including the rights of trans women to live with dignity. The court agreed that ‘the existence of a law that punishes the gender expression of transsexuals (transgender persons) … directly affects … right to live with dignity, guaranteed by Art. 5(1), by depriving them of their value and worth as members of our society.’

–       Article 8 (1) and (2) guarantees equality before the law and non-discrimination, in particular gender-based discrimination. The raid in Kedah clearly shows that trans women do not enjoy equality before the law, as only the transgender women attendees were issued the notice for an investigation on a later date.

–       Article 9 guarantees freedom of movement

–       Article 10 guarantees the right to speech and assembly. In the decision, the Court noted that freedom of expression includes the way we dress or our gender expression.

We are also deeply concerned by the investigation of the organiser for ‘encouraging vice’ and the instructions by the Kedah Islamic Department to end the event seemingly due to the inclusion and attendance of transgender women. This is a dangerous trend as it punishes event organisers, allies or people for being inclusive of transgender women. It further perpetuates the harmful stereotypes of trans women being deviants, sinners and criminals, leaving no room for social integration of transgender women in society. The state action is counter-productive to building an inclusive, safe and equal society.

We call for the Kedah Islamic Department to drop the investigation, and cease all forms of prosecution of transgender women. The state must acknowledge transgender women as autonomous and equal members of society, and dismantle prejudice, stereotypes and misinformation about transgender people.

Unethical and bias media reporting

We are also deeply disappointed by the sensational reports of the raid by Harian Metro and New Straits Times (NST). The title of the NST article which is a translation of the Harian Metro article, is degrading and sensational. The title essentially mocks the identity of transgender women, and implies that they are ‘distressed men’. We strongly recommend NST to amend the title of the article. 

The Harian Metro article and video report not only misgendered trans women multiple times, but also contained bias, disrespectful and inaccurate statements, language and title. For example, the article reinforces the notion that trans women deserve the consequences for expressing themselves. The article overlooked the unequal power dynamics between the state and transgender women, and the systemic impact of the laws that criminalise transgender people.  

The report only contained quotes by the state Islamic Department, which uses a pejorative term for transgender women. The article could have also featured voices of the transgender women attendees or transgender human rights groups in order to provide different perspectives on the raid.

Harian Metro was also reportedly at the raid. We have many questions surrounding the presence of the media at the raid, including how did the media learn about the raid, and what was their intention of covering the raid?

We have contacted Harian Metro to make changes to the article in order to remove the prejudicial and sensational elements, and maintain a factual, ethical and non-bias reporting. However, no changes have been made so far, and we have not received a reply from Harian Metro.

Endorsed by

  1. Justice for Sisters 
  2. SEED Malaysia 
  3. Pelangi Campaign 
  4. People Like Us Support ourselves (PLUsos)   
  5. Queer Lapis 
  6. Tenaganita 
  7. Amnesty International Malaysia 
  8. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  9. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  10. Sarawak Women For Women Society (SWWS)
  11. Sabah Human Rights Center 
  12. Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All (SERATA) 
  13. Sabah Women Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  14. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  15. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  16. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  17. Pertubuhan Kesihatan Dan Kebajikan Umum (PPKUM)

Pembetulan bagi artikel Harian Metro

Pembetulan 1

Padah berlagak wanita untuk ditukar kerana bahasa yang digunakan mempunyai konotasi menyalahkan dan menghukum wanita transgender kerana mengekspresikan diri mereka. Tajuk ini tidak mengambil kira undang-undang yang menjenayahkan wanita transgender dan kesannya, serta pematuhan undang-undang tersebut dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan undang-undang hak asasi manusia antarabangsa.


–       Wanita transgender disiasat atas alasan mengekspresikan diri mereka

–       Ekspresi wanita transgender disekat undang-undang

Pembetulan 2

Lagak mereka seperti wanita, namun hakikatnya mereka adalah lelaki. Itu tindakan sekumpulan individu yang menyertai majlis sambutan hari jadi yang diadakan di sebuah hotel di Bandar Darulaman di sini, malam tadi.

Bagaimanapun, semua 30 lelaki dipercayai pondan itu hanya mampu terkedu apabila premis itu diserbu anggota penguat kuasa Jabatan Agama Islam Kedah (JAIK).

Sebuah majlis sambutan hari jadi yang dihadiri oleh 30 individu transgender di sebuah hotel di Bandar Darulaman di sini, malam tadi diserbu anggota penguat kuasa Jabatan Agama Islam Kedah (JAIK).

Pembetulan 3

Kesemua pondan berusia antara 20-an hingga 40-an itu didapati berpakaian wanita seperti gaun dan berbaju kebaya.

Kesemua wanita transgender berusia antara 20-an hingga 40-an .

Pembetulan 4

“Bagaimanapun, kami meminta mereka yang tidak berkenaan bersurai dan hasil pemeriksaan mendapati, terdapat 30 lelaki yang berpakaian wanita dan disyaki pondan.

“Bagaimanapun, kami meminta mereka yang tidak berkenaan bersurai dan hasil pemeriksaan mendapati, terdapat 30 lelaki yang berpakaian wanita dan disyaki “pondan”*.

*pondan ialah istilah yang mempunyai konotasi negatif yang digunakan untuk merujuk kepada golongan wanita transgender atau lelaki gay, biseksual dan queer. Istilah ini tidak sesuai digunakan untuk terhadap golongan wanita transgender kerana ianya merendahkan martabat diri mereka. Istilah yang lebih sesuai dan menghormati identiti mereka ialah wanita transgender atau mak nyah.

Pembetulan 5

Dalam pada itu, Radzi berkata, kesemua pondan berkenaan didapati menetap sekitar daerah ini, selain ada yang berasal dari Selangor dan negeri lain.

Dalam pada itu, Radzi berkata, kesemua wanita transgender berkenaan didapati menetap sekitar daerah ini, selain ada yang berasal dari Selangor dan negeri lain.

Hentikan Initimidasi terhadap Pembela Hak Asasi Manusia yang Mempertikaikan Dasar Kerajaan Berkaitan LGBTIQ 

Kami amat khuatir dengan reaksi melampau pihak kerajaan dan badan bukan kerajaan terhadap sebuah kiriman media sosial berkenaan terapi ‘pemulihan’ bertarikh 30 Julai 2020. Kami percaya kiriman tersebut telah diambil di luar konteks oleh individu yang berniat memburukkan komuniti LGBTQ. Hal ini telah menyebabkan laporan polis dibuat terhadap pembela hak asasi manusia yang mengarang hantaran tersebut.

Dakwaan JAKIM dan beberapa individu lain yang telah membuat laporan polis bahawa kiriman media sosial itu menyamakan Kem Mukhayyam yang didanai oleh kerajaan dengan kaedah terapi ‘pemulihan orientasi seksual dan identiti gender yang lain telah menimbulkan kekeliruan. Kiriman media sosial tersebut, sebaliknya, memberi gambaran menyeluruh berkenaan terapi pemulihan orientasi seksual dan identiti gender, serta kaedah terapi pemulihan yang diamalkan di seluruh dunia oleh pihak kerajaan dan bukan kerajaan. Dakwaan bahawa kiriman media sosial tersebut telah “memfitnah” JAKIM dan Jabatan Agama Islam Negeri (JAIN) adalah tidak berasas.

Dalam konteks Malaysia, kiriman media sosial tersebut dengan jelas telah menyenaraikan terapi ‘pemulihan’  yang didanai kerajaan seperti berikut:

  • Program atau Kem Mukhayyam
  • Seminar dan aktiviti
  • Pemulihan Islamik sebagai rawatan untuk “memulihkan” LGBT
  • Pelan Tindakan Menangani Gejala Sosial Perlakuan LGBT
  • Sumber termasuk e-buku dan aplikasi untuk “hijrah diri” atau “mengubah diri”

Setiap maklumat di dalam kiriman tersebut telah dipetik daripada kajian yang diterbitkan, Hansard Parlimen dan laporan media yang boleh diakses di atas talian.

Terdapat banyak kaedah terapi ‘pemulihan’ yang menggunakan nama yang berlainan di seluruh dunia. Di Malaysia, istilah seperti ‘balik ke pangkal jalan’, ‘kembali ke jalan yang benar’ dan ‘hijrah’ digunakan dengan meluas untuk merujuk kepada perubahan atau penekanan orientasi seksual dan identiti gender. Hal ini termasuk program didanai kerajaan yang disebut di atas.

Seperti yang disebut oleh bekas Menteri Hal Ehwal Agama, Mujahid Yusof Rawa pada tahun 2019, program didanai kerajaan berniat untuk “memulih, memperbaiki, mengubah tingkah laku mereka dan cara hidup mereka yang songsang”. Begitu juga, pada sesi parlimen ke-17 pada tahun 2012, Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri ketika itu Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim berkongsi bahawa JAKIM telah menggunakan dua pendekatan untuk “membanteras LGBT” iaitu pencegahan menggunakan kaedah dakwah dan penguatkuasaan undang-undang.

Dalam sebuah visual yang diterbitkan oleh JAKIM pada Julai tahun ini, Ketua Pengarah JAKIM dipetik berkata Program Pendidikan, Rawatan dan Pemulihan Kecelaruan Gender telah mendekati sebanyak 1700 individu LGBT sejak permulaannya pada tahun 2011. Beliau menyatakan bahawa ramai daripada mereka yang didekati telah berhijrah. Kenyataan seperti ini jelas menunjukkan bahawa matlamat JAKIM dalam melaksanakan program yang mensasarkan individu LGBTQ adalah selari dengan matlamat terapi ‘pemulihan’ yang difahami seluruh dunia meskipun ia mempunyai nama dan kaedah yang berbeza.

Berkaitan persoalan tentang penyertaan individu dalam program Mukhayam, kiriman daripada pembela hak asasi manusia itu TIDAK PERNAH menyatakan bahawa penyertaan adalah secara bukan sukarela atau sebaliknya. Ia juga tidak membuat spekulasi, mencerca atau mempersoalkan niat dan motivasi peserta yang mengikuti program itu.

Walau bagaimanapun, kita masih memerlukan pemahaman yang lebih mendalam tentang maksud “penyertaan sukarela”. Meskipun penyertaan seseorang dalam mana-mana program tersebut dikatakan ‘sukarela’, ia tidak bermaksud program tersebut selari dengan piawaian hak asasi manusia. Penyertaan dan kaedah program adalah dua perkara berbeza yang perlu dinilai.

Di Malaysia, kewujudan undang-undang, dasar dan program pemulihan yang menyasarkan individu LGBTQ atau berperilaku LGBTQ menyumbang kepada stigma sosial terhadap individu LGBTQ. Keputusan ramai individu LGBTQ yang hidup dalam persekitaran yang homofobik dan transfobik untuk mengubah atau menekan orientasi seksual dan identiti gender mereka supaya mereka boleh diterima masyarakat adalah sesuatu yang boleh difahami. Oleh itu, kita perlu bertanya soalan ini; apakah tahap kesukarelawanan individu LGBTQ yang menyertai program itu sekiranya mereka hidup dalam masyarakat yang meminggir, mencetus stigma dan menjenayahkan mereka di sisi undang-undang?

JAKIM dan pihak lain juga telah mendakwa bahawa pengarang kiriman itu menafikan kebebasan beragama individu yang ingin mengambil bahagian dalam program tersebut. Kami ingin menyatakan bahawa pengarang kiriman tersebut tidak mempunyai kuasa untuk menafikan kebebasan mereka untuk beragama, dan beliau juga tidak mencabar Islam atau agama lain. Sementara itu, melaporkan beliau kepada pihak polis berdasarkan kesalahtafsiran kiriman beliau, mereka telah menafikan hak beliau untuk bersuara. Menulis tentang terapi pemulihan, program pemulihan yang didanai kerajaan, dan pengalaman individu LGBTIQ yang lain sama sekali tidak bermaksud menghalang individu lain untuk mengamalkan agama mereka. Beliau hanya menyuarakan kekhuatiran tentang program dan pendekatan yang didanai kerajaan untuk memulihkan individu LGBTQ. Sistem demokrasi yang sihat dan berfungsi harus memberi ruang kepada individu untuk mempersoal program yang didanai kerajaan seperti mana agensi kerajaan harus bertanggungjawab untuk memberi respons terhadap persoalan ini tanpa intimidasi.

Tindakan terburu-buru JAKIM membuat laporan polis adalah  keterlaluan. Ia mengundang seruan kepada rakyat Malaysia bahawa kita tidak dibenarkan mempersoal dasar dan program kerajaan, dan berniat untuk menyekat kebebasan bersuara dan hak kita terhadap maklumat dan informasi. Hal ini sekali gus akan menyekat penglibatan terbuka rakyat dalam isu berkaitan undang-undang, dasar, arahan dan program kerana mereka takut dikenakan tindakan. Ketakutan terhadap tindakan yang akan dikenakan selalunya memberi kesan lebih buruk kepada komuniti terpinggir seperti LGBTQ, dan mengakibatkan mereka berdiam diri. Ini secara efektifnya merendahkan piawaian akauntabiliti kerajaan dan pemerintahan yang baik.

Program pemulihan dan pendekatan lain pihak kerajaan yang berkaitan dengan individu LGBTQ telah mendapat kritikan meluas daripada pelbagai pihak. Pada tahun 2018, Jawatankuasa Konvensyen Penghapusan Segala Bentuk Diskriminasi Terhadap Wanita (CEDAW) telah mencadangkan supaya Malaysia “mempercepatkan tindakan untuk menghentikan segala dasar dan aktiviti yang bertujuan untuk “membetulkan” atau “memulihkan” wanita LBTI.”

Sejajar dengan piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa, CEDAW dan cadangan relevan lain yang diutarakan oleh Pelapor Khas PBB, kami menyarankan kerajaan untuk menggunakan isi kandungan tersebut sebagai sebuah peluang untuk melaksanakan satu penilaian impak hak asasi manusia yang bebas bagi program sedia ada dan pendekatan kerajaan berkaitan isu LGBTQ. Untuk memastikan ia lebih bermakna, kami mencadangkan kerajaan melibatkan diri dan mendapatkan khidmat nasihat daripada kumpulan hak asasi manusia LGBTQ yang menegakkan dan mempertahan hak asasi manusia sejagat supaya semua individu dapat melibatkan diri dalam menjadikan Malaysia selamat dan saksama bagi semua lapisan masyarakat. Individu LGBTQ tidak perlu mengubah diri mereka. Namun bersama-sama kita boleh mengubah Malaysia menjadi lebih baik.

Disokong oleh :

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. PELANGI Campaign
  3. Gay Community Welfare Network
  4. People Like Us Hang Out (PLUHO)
  5. Amnesty International Malaysia
  6. Aliran
  7. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC)
  8. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  9. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  10. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  11. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (PROHAM)
  12. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
  13. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  14. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  15. Tenaganita

Stop Intimidating Human Rights Defenders who Question LGBTQ Related Government Policies 

We are deeply concerned by the disproportionate and heavy-handed response by state and non-state actors in relation to a social media post on conversion therapy dated 30 July 2020. We believe the post has been taken out of context by those bent on casting LGBTQ persons and allies in a bad light, and has resulted in police reports being made against the human rights defender who authored the post.

It is misleading for JAKIM and others who have lodged police reports to say that the post likened the state-funded Mukhayyam camps to other methods of conversion therapy. On the contrary, the post provided an overview of conversion therapy as well as the various methods of conversion therapies known and practised around the world by state and non-state actors. Claims that the post had ‘defamed’ JAKIM and state Islamic departments on this point are therefore invalid.

Where Malaysia is concerned, the post clearly noted the state-funded conversion programmes are as follows:

  • The Mukhayyam programme or camps
  • Seminar and activities
  • Islamic spiritual healing as treatment to ‘heal’ LGBT
  • 5-year action plan to “curb LGBT behaviour”
  • Resources, including e-books and app to hijrah diri, or ‘changing oneself’

All the information in the post was cited and based on published research, Parliament Hansard and media reports available online.

There are many methods of conversion therapy and they are called by different terms around the world. In Malaysia, the language of balik pangkal jalan or ‘return to the right path’, and hijrah are widely used to refer to change or suppression of sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes the state-funded programmes mentioned above.

As mentioned by former Minister of Religious Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa in 2019, the state-funded programmes aim to “reform, fix them, change their attitude and their wayward lifestyle”. Similarly, in the 17th parliament session in 2012, the then Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department, Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim shared that JAKIM and the state religious department had adopted two approaches to ‘curb LGBT’, which are prevention using the dakwah method and enforcement of laws. 

In a visual released by JAKIM in July this year, the department’s Director General was quoted as saying that JAKIM’s “gender confusion education, treatment, and rehabilitation programme” has reached over 1,700 LGBT persons since it began in 2011. He further claims many have hijrah. These pronouncements clearly show JAKIM’s goal is that of conversion, and its programmes targetting LGBTQ persons are in line with “conversion therapy” as understood worldwide, even if the methods may differ.

On the question of participation in the Mukhayyam programme, the post by the human rights defender NEVER claimed that participation is involuntary or otherwise. It also does not speculate, vilify or question the motivations of the participants who attend the programme.

We do, however, need a deeper understanding of what is meant by “voluntary participation”. While a person’s participation in a programme may be voluntary, it does not mean the programmes themselves are aligned with human rights standards. Participation and methodology of the programme are two seperate things that need to be assessed.

In Malaysia, the existence of laws, policies and rehabilitation programmes targeting LGBTQ persons and behaviour all contribute to social stigma against LGBTQ persons. Living in a homophobic and transphobic environment, many LGBTQ people would understandably want to change or suppress their sexual orientation and gender identity simply to be accepted. Therefore, we must ask, how voluntary are LGBTQ people’s participation in such programmes when they live in a society that criminalises, marginalises and stigmatises them?

JAKIM and others claim that the author of the content is denying the religious freedom of those who wish to participate in such programmes. We would like to note that the author has no such power to deny people their freedoms and did not challenge Islam or anyone’s faith. Meanwhile, by reporting her to the police based on a misinterpretation of her content, they have denied her right to speech. Writing about conversion therapy, state-funded conversion programmes, and experiences of LGBTIQ persons does not amount to restriction of anyone else’s religious belief. She only raised her concerns about the state-funded programme and approaches on rehabilitating LGBTQ persons. A healthy and functioning democracy must allow for the people to question a state-funded programme as much as it allows for the state agencies responsible for those programmes to respond without resorting to intimidation.

JAKIM’s knee-jerk reaction to lodge a police report is a disproportionate response to the post. It sends a message to Malaysians that we are not allowed to question governmental policies and programmes, and aims to limit our freedom of expression and our right to information. This will restrict public participation of all citizens in relation to laws, policy, directives, and programmes, due to fear of reprisals. The fear of reprisals often affects marginalised communities such as the LGBTQ communities more, silencing them as a result. This effectively lowers the standards of accountability and good governance.

The government’s conversion programmes and approaches in relation to LGBTQ persons have been widely scrutinised by various bodies. In 2018, the CEDAW committee in its concluding observation recommended that Malaysia ‘Expedite measures to discontinue all policies and activities, which aim to “correct” or “rehabilitate” LBTI women’.

In line with international human rights standards, CEDAW concluding observations, and other relevant recommendations by the Special Rapporteurs, we recommend the government to use the content as an opportunity to carry out an independent human rights impact assessment of their current programmes and approaches in relation to LGBTQ issues. To do this meaningfully, we also recommend that the government engages and consults with LGBTQ-affirming groups that uphold and defend universal human rights so that all may participate in making Malaysia safe and equal for all. LGBTQ persons do not need to change who they are. But together we can change Malaysia for the better.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. PELANGI Campaign
  3. Gay Community Welfare Network
  4. People Like Us Hang Out (PLUHO)
  5. Amnesty International Malaysia
  6. Aliran
  7. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC)
  8. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  9. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  10. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  11. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (PROHAM)
  12. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
  13. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  14. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  15. Tenaganita

Apa yang diperlukan oleh golongan transgender adalah lesen untuk dihormati sebagai manusia

Justice for Sisters sangat bimbang dan kecewa dengan kenyataan Dr Zulkifli Mohamad yang tidak bertanggungjawab dan melecehkan individu transgender dalam media semalam. Dalam kenyataannya, beliau memberikan lesen penuh kepada Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) untuk menangkap dan memberi kaunseling atau mendidik individu transgender supaya ‘balik ke pangkal jalan’. Kami bimbang bahawa kenyataannya akan meningkatkan diskriminasi, keganasan dan penganiayaan terhadap wanita transgender tanpa apa-apa akibat terhadap pegawai penguatkuasa JAWI dan juga orang awam. Kami telahpun menerima banyak pertanyaan dan keresahan komuniti ini tentang keselamatan, keamanan dan kesejahteraan diri oleh individu transgender di seluruh negara sejak kenyataan tersebut diterbitkan.

Kebimbangan ini bukannya tidak berasas. Terdapat banyak bukti dan laporan yang direkodkan mengenai penganiayaan dan pelanggaran hak asasi manusia oleh Jabatan Agama Islam terhadap golongan transgender. Kajian mengenai Diskriminasi terhadap Golongan Transgender di Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor oleh Suhakam mendedahkan bahawa 39 daripada 69 orang wanita trans yang ditemubual (57%) telah mengalami penangkapan sewenang-wenang oleh sebab identiti gender mereka, sementara ramai lagi yang lain mempunyai pengalaman negatif dengan agensi penguatkuasaan undang-undang. Angka ini membimbangkan kerana mereka menunjukkan wanita trans disasarkan secara tidak seimbang dan ditangkap berdasarkan identiti gender mereka. Kajian tersebut juga mendokumentasi kesan daripada pengalaman negatif dengan agensi penguatkuasaan telah menyebabkan antara lainnya, kegelisahan, trauma, dan kemurungan. Empat individu telah menyatakan bahawa mereka mengalami fikiran untuk bunuh diri, dan seorang telah cuba untuk membunuh akibat pengalaman negatif mereka.

Sementara itu, Human Rights Watch melalui I am Scared to be a Woman mendokumentasikan pelbagai bentuk pencabulan dan keganasan yang dialami golongan wanita trans semasa penangkapan dan penahanan mereka serta kesannya terhadap pekerjaan dan hubungan interpersonal.

Dokumentasi pencabulan hak asasi manusia dalam laporan-laporan ini masih belum disiasat dan masih belum ada yang dipertanggungjawabkan. Kebenaran untuk menangkap individu transgender ini secara dasarnya memberikan lesen untuk mendiskriminasi, mempromosi kebencian, dan mencabul hak golongan wanita transgender di Malaysia sewenang-wenangnya. Ia merupakan lesen yang dinikmati oleh aktor negara yang bebas untuk menangkap dan menjalankan terapi ‘kembali ke pangkal jalan’ sewenang-wenangnya, tanpa apa-apa bentuk akauntabiliti, walaupun ianya mengakibatkan penyekatan terhadap ekspresi diri dan identiti, kebebasan untuk bergerak, dan akses kepada keadilan. Persekitaran ini lebih menyukarkan bagi golongan transgender untuk melaporkan pencabulan hak asasi manusia.

Kami juga merasa sangat terganggu dengan persepsi kerajaan terhadap golongan transgender tanpa rasa hormat dan bermaruah. Kami ingin menekankan di sini bahawa individu transgender adalah manusia yang punya autonomi dan anggota masyarakat yang setara hak mereka seperti yang ditegaskan oleh Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat dan perjanjian-perjanjian lain PBB, serta undang-undang hak asasi manusia antarabangsa.

Gagasan bahawa identiti gender dan golongan transgender dapat dipulihkan, diubah atau ‘dikembalikan ke jalan yang benar’ melalui kaunseling sesungguhnya adalah salah dan tidak saintifik. Ia mengakibatkan bahaya dan pencabulan hak asasi manusia yang keterlaluan terhadap golongan transgender, individu bukan binari dan ‘gender non-conforming’*. Sebenarnya, terapi pembetulan atau penukaran ini, termasuk penggunaan kaedah kerohanian dan agama telah ditolak oleh badan-badan perubatan dan hak asasi manusia global kerana kesannya yang berbahaya, termasuk kemurungan, idea dan cubaan bunuh diri, dan kecederaan diri, antara lainnya. Kami menegaskan bahawa amalan ini adalah bentuk penyeksaan memandangkan betapa besarnya bahaya yang dialami oleh individu dan orang yang mereka sayangi.

Walaupun kerajaan mungkin mendakwa bahawa mereka telah melihat banyak wanita transgender yang telah mengubah diri mereka dan telah ‘kembali ke pangkal jalan’, kita haruslah meneliti faktor dan keadaan yang menyumbang kepada perubahan ini. Kami menghormati hak setiap orang untuk menentukan identiti diri dan ekspresi diri. Namun, penting untuk dinilai bahawa perubahan ini dilakukan demi mengakses peluang, perkhidmatan, dan kadang-kala untuk ditolak ansur dalam masyarakat. Sering kali, penerimaan tanpa syarat sangat sukar untuk dibayangkan bagi individu transgender kerana diskriminasi, keganasan dan peminggiran yang mereka alami sepanjang hidup mereka. Kami percaya bahawa individu transgender tahu keperluan diri mereka dan tidak memerlukan intervensi oleh orang lain untuk membetulkan mereka. Kita patut mendengar keperluan golongan transgender daripada mereka sendiri.

Buku panduan Born Free and Equal oleh Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu menggariskan 5 langkah yang dapat diambil oleh sebuah negara untuk memenuhi kewajiban kita berkaitan dengan hak asasi manusia LGBTIQ. Ia termasuklah, 1) melindungi individu LGBTI dari keganasan, 2) mencegah penyiksaan dan perlakuan buruk terhadap individu LGBTI, termasuk terapi penukaran, 3) memansuhkan undang-undang yang mengkriminalisasi individu LGBTI, 4) melarang diskriminasi berdasarkan orientasi seksual, identiti gender, ekspresi gender dan ciri-ciri seks 5) menjaga kebebasan bersuara, perhimpunan dan persatuan secara aman untuk individu LGBTI

Di samping itu, kerajaan Malaysia telah menerima banyak cadangan melalui proses PBB, antara lainnya, seperti semakan CEDAW dan UPR untuk memansuhkan undang-undang yang mendiskriminasi, memastikan pelindungan terhadap keganasan dan diskriminasi. Sudah tiba masanya kerajaan melaksanakan cadangan tersebut bagi memastikan tiada siapa yang tertinggal dan semua orang di Malaysia dapat menikmati dan menggunakan hak asasi mereka.

Dr Zulkifli sewaktu menjadi Mufti di Wilayah Persekutuan telah mengambil banyak peluang melibatkan diri dengan golongan trans. Sepanjang penglibatan tersebut, golongan trans telah berkongsi pengalaman hidup mereka, cabaran yang mereka hadapi kerana anggapan berbahaya bahawa individu transgender dan identiti gender mereka dapat diubah. Cabaran ini menjadi lebih parah dengan ketiadaan pengiktirafan gender dan undang-undang dan fatwa yang menyekat mereka.

Berikutan hubungannya dengan individu-individu transgender, kami meminta Dr Zulkifli untuk mempertimbangkan semula kenyataannya dan kemudaratan berlanjutan yang akan timbul terhadap komuniti transgender. Kami mengesyorkan agar beliau menarik balik kenyataannya untuk mengelakkan bahaya terhadap individu transgender.

Justice for Sisters menggesa kerajaan memenuhi kewajibannya dalam melindungi, menghormati dan memenuhi hak semua orang, serta mengakhiri segala bentuk hukuman, diskriminasi dan keganasan terhadap golongan trans.

*gender non-conforming – individu yang gender ekspresinya di luar stereotaip gender lelaki perempuan

What Trans People Need is the License to Be Respected as Human

Justice for Sisters is deeply concerned with and disappointed by Dr Zulkifli Mohamad’s irresponsible and degrading statement about trans people in the media yesterday. In the statement, he gives full license to the Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI) to arrest and counsel or educate transgender people so that they ‘return to the right path’. His statement will increase discrimination, violence and mistreatment of transgender women with impunity by enforcement officers of the Islamic Departments as well as members of the public. We are already observing questions and concerns over personal security, safety and well-being by transgender persons across the country since the release of the statement.

These concerns are not unfounded. There are many documented evidence and reports of mistreatment and human rights violations by the Islamic Departments against transgender people. The Study on Discrimination against Transgender Persons in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by Suhakam revealed that 39 of 69 trans women interviewees (57%) had experienced arbitrary arrest based on gender identity, while many others have had hostile interactions with law enforcement agencies. These numbers are alarming as they suggest trans women are disproportionately targeted and arrested based on their gender identity.  The study also documents the impact of hostile encounters with the enforcement agencies, which include anxiety, trauma, depression amongst others. Four persons shared that they have had suicidal thoughts, and one person had attempted suicide as a result of the encounters.

Meanwhile, I am Scared to be a Woman, a Human Rights Watch report documents the multiple forms of aggression and violence experienced by trans women during arrest and detention as well their impact on the employment and interpersonal relationships of trans women.

The human rights violations documented in these reports have yet to be investigated and no one has been held accountable. This license to arrest is essentially a license to discriminate, promote hate and violate the rights of trans women in Malaysia with impunity. It is a license enjoyed by the state actors who are free to conduct arrests and corrective therapies as they please, often without accountability, even while they restricted trans people from their right to self-expression and identity, freedom of movement, and access to redress and justice. This hostile environment makes it even more challenging for transgender people to report human rights violations.

We are also deeply disturbed by the government’s perception of transgender people as less than human and as undeserving of respect and dignity. We emphasize that transgender persons are autonomous human beings and equal members of society with rights as affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN treaties as well as international human rights laws.

The notion that gender identity and transgender persons can be rehabilitated, changed or ‘returned to the right path’ through counseling is completely false and unscientific. It subjects transgender persons, non-binary and gender non-conforming persons to so much harm and human rights violations. In fact, these corrective or conversion therapies, including those that use spiritual and religious methods have been rejected by medical and human rights bodies globally due to its harmful impact, including depression, suicidal ideation and attempts and self harm, among others. We reiterate that these practices are forms of torture given the magnitude of harm it has on the individual and their loved ones.

While the government may claim that they have seen many transgender women who have changed themselves or ‘returned to the right path’, we must analyze the factors and circumstances that contribute to these changes. We respect everyone’s right to self-determination, self-expression and the choices that they make. However, it is important to note that these individuals’ decisions to change are often made in order to access opportunities, services, and simply to be tolerated in society. Given the discrimination, violence and marginalization that they faced throughout their lives, some transgender people cannot imagine they could be accepted without condition and therefore subject themselves to society’s conditions just to get by. We believe that trans people know their own needs and do not need uninvited interventions from others to correct them. We should listen to them tell us what they want.

The Born Free and Equal handbook by the United Nations outlines the 5 steps that a state can take to fulfill its state obligation in relation to the human rights of LGBTIQ persons. This includes 1) protect LGBTI persons from violence 2) prevent torture and ill treatment of LGBTI persons, including conversion therapy 3) repeal laws that criminalize LGBTI persons 4) prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics 5) safeguard freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association for LGBTI persons

In addition, the Malaysian government has received multiple recommendations through the UN process, namely the CEDAW review and the UPR to repeal discriminatory laws and to ensure protection against violence and discrimination, amongst others. It is time for the government to implement the recommendations to ensure nobody is left behind and all persons in Malaysia are able to enjoy and exercise their human rights.

Dr Zulkifli in his former capacity as the Mufti of the Federal Territory has engaged trans people on numerous occasions. In these engagements, trans people have shared their lived experiences. These include challenges that they have faced due to the harmful assumptions that transgender persons and their gender identity can be changed. These further compound the challenges they have faced because of the lack of gender recognition and the numerous laws and fatwas that restrict them.

Given his engagements with transgender persons, we call for Dr Zulkifli to reflect on his statements and the harm it will cause transgender persons. We recommend that he withdraws his statement to prevent harm against transgender persons.

Justice for Sisters urges government to fulfill its obligations to protect, respect and fulfill the rights of all persons, and end of forms of impunity, discrimination and violence against trans people.

Update 17 May: Trans Solidarity Fund / Dana Solidariti Transgender

Collectively we have raised RM 40,960.35 as of 12 May 2020. We have spent RM 39,820 for :

  • 623 requests for groceries from trans women in 19 districts, 12 states , RM 31,150
  • 11 requests for rent support, RM 5,620
  • 4 requests for medical support, RM 900
  • 5 requests for emergency & daily expenses, RM 2,150

*emergency includes diapers for elderly persons, diapers and baby formula for children, assistance to pay the MCO compound

We have also collected some information of the trans solidarity fund’s recipients for some analysis and our advocacy purposes. While financial support is critical in this moment, structural changes are extremely urgent to address the multiple forms of inequalities and marginalization faced by the trans people and sex workers.

Who have accessed or benefited from the trans solidarity fund?

  • Trans women between 19 – 82 years old in over 19 districts in 12 states in Malaysia
  • Cisgender women sex workers between 30 – 45 years old

Those who have accessed or benefited from the fund earn between RM 0 – RM 2,000 per month. About 20% of the recipients’ are either unemployed or have no stable income. Meanwhile over 48% of the recipients earn between RM 200 – 950.

Area of coverage

  1. Perak – Taiping
  2. Pahang – Kuantan, Bera, Bentong, Temerloh, Jengka
  3. Negeri Sembilan – Seremban
  4. Sarawak – Kuching
  5. Sabah – Kota Kinabalu, Semporna
  6. Johor – Muar
  7. Kelantan
  8. Terengganu – Kuala Terengganu, Dungun, Kemanan, Setiu
  9. Pulau Pinang
  10. Kedah – Alor Setar, Sungai Petani
  11. Kuala Lumpur (for rent only)
  12. Melaka (for rent only)


Secara kolektif, kita telah mengutip sebanyak RM 24,574.35 setakat 21 April. Sebanyak RM 21,820 telah digunakan untuk:

  • 623 pemintaan untuk barangan dapur oleh wanita transgender di 19 daerah, 12 negeri, RM 31,150
  • 10 permintaan untuk bantuan sewa, RM 5,620
  • 4 permintaan untuk bantuan perubatan, RM 900
  • 5 permintaan untuk kecemasan & perbelanjaan harian, RM 2,150

*kecemasan termasuklah lampin untuk golongan berusia, lampin dan susu bayi, bantuan bayaran kompaun PKP



Donations for trans people affected by Covid-19 / Sumbangan derma bagi individu transgender terkesan akibat Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has surfaced wide gaps and prejudice in our society. The poor, marginalized, and stigmatized are among the worst hit by the pandemic, widening existing inequalities and economic vulnerabilities.

Justice for Sisters, SEED Foundation and friends aim to raise RM 40,000 to support transgender persons in Malaysia in precarious work, who are living the poverty, and require financial assistance . The funds will be used for

  1. Food for low income households
  2. Rent and daily expenses
  3. Other emergencies

Please make your donations here.

CIMB 800-6999-903
Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kebajikan Dan Persekitaran Positif Malaysia (SEED)

Please include ‘covid solidarity’ for our reference

For further information please contact


Pandemik Covid-19 yang kita sedang berhadapan kini telah membangkitkan jurang dan prejudis dalam masyarakat kita. Golongan miskin, terpinggir dan yang distigma adalah antara yang lebih terkesan daripada pandemik, meluaskan ketidaksaksamaan serta kerentanan ekonomi.

Justice for Sisters bersama kawan-kawan akan mengutip derma untuk membantu individu transgender yang tidak mempunyai kerja tetap, yang hidup dalam kemiskinan dan yang memerlukan bantuan kewangan. Dana akan digunakan untuk

  1. Makanan dan keperluan dapur
  2. Sewa dan perbelanjaan harian lain
  3. Kecemasan lain

Anda boleh menyumbangkan derma anda di sini.

CIMB 800-6999-903
Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kebajikan Dan Persekitaran Positif Malaysia (SEED)

Sila nyatakan ‘solidariti covid’ bagi rujukan kami.

Bagi maklumat lanjut sila hubungi

In solidarity with all

State must prioritize Sajat’s safety, instead of fuel controversy over telekung

Justice for Sisters is deeply disappointed by the reactions to Sajat’s trip to Mecca to perform umrah (minor pilgrimage) with her family members and friends. We emphasise and recall the state’s obligation to protect human rights for all people and all citizens, regardless of their gender identity or sex characteristics.

We are concerned that the reactions and calls for investigation against Sajat and her friends, who are trans women, place them under adverse risks. Saudi Arabia criminalises trans people based on their gender expression or based on their attire. In addition, transgender and non-cisgender people face harsh challenges in travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Even more concerning is the reaction by the Minister of Religious Affairs and state muftis. Mujahid Rawa’s misplaced concerns and knee jerk reaction on this matter could further escalate concerns over the safety, security and persecution for her, her family members and friends in Malaysia and abroad. In this situation, where there are allegations of arrest and public pressure towards the travel agency, the government should take measures to ensure her safety while she is abroad, and that she safely returns to Malaysia.

The real concern is not the telekung (prayer garment), but her safety and security, the breach of privacy and the lack of rights and evidence-based response by the government on this matter.

Several documents including a copy of passport and travel documents, which allegedly state Sajat’s deadname (assigned name at birth that the person no longer identifies with) were shared doxxed or publicly on social media and the media without consent. The documents spread like wildfire, sparking harmful online comments and a shift in the way in which the media describes Sajat.

Disclosure of personal data without consent is a breach of Section 8 of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010. Instead of investigating the perpetrators who shared her alleged legal and travel documents and addressing the spread of her personal data, Mujahid and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) are in discussion regarding actions that can be taken against Sajat for sharing videos of herself in Mecca. We call Mujahid and MCMC to identify and address the root issues in this matter – the breach of privacy via doxxing, transphobia and misogyny online, gender-based violence.

Many media outlets had participated in amplifying the doxxing and breach of privacy by republishing the legal and travel documents on their platforms. In addition, the media had also begun calling Sajat by the deadname associated with her. Using her alleged deadname is extremely regressive, unethical and degrading. Compounding this problem are the barriers faced by trans, intersex, non-binary and people of non-cisgender identities to change their details in their legal documents to reflect their authentic self. These barriers violate a person’s privacy and increase vulnerability to humiliation, discrimination, blackmail, threats, and violence, as evidenced by this case. Regardless of what is stated in the legal documents, we must respect and affirm a person’s gender identity. Using the name and pronouns that a person identifies with is a very basic form of respect.

We are also deeply appalled by the suggestions to impose intrusive tests (hormone and other tests) and the need for scientific evidence to prove a person’s sex and gender identity. In many countries that have introduced affirming legislation for trans and intersex people, it is prohibited to ask trans and intersex persons to provide medical evidence to prove their identity due to the intrusive nature of the tests and the growing understanding of the diversity of sex and gender. Cisgender heterosexual people are not required to provide such evidence to prove their identity and existence. Most importantly, it is not the state’s role to police people’s sex and gender identity. The state’s role and obligation is to protect, fulfill and respect the human rights of all persons.

Sex and gender identity are two separate things. Sex refers to our body, and it’s often oversimplified as just our genitals. However, sex refers to a combination of genital, gonadal and chromosomal patterns. In contrast, gender identity is not visible and it is not determined by body parts. Gender manifests through the way we identify ourselves as man, woman, non-binary, agender, and many other gender identities. Multiple evidence shows gender identity is self-determined, and all people begin to have a sense of awareness and manifest their gender identity through clothing, articulation of identity in childhood.

For years, Sajat’s gender identity has been, among other things, publicly scrutinised, reported for investigation by the Islamic Departments, subjected to witch-hunts, online aggression, boycotts and violence. All of which, violates her rights to privacy, self-determination, and equality and non-discrimination. Even though all of this takes place in the public sphere, the government has yet to take actions to mitigate the harm towards her. Instead, the state sides with those who instigate hate and legitimise their actions.

Indeed, Sajat’s experiences represent the experiences of many intersex, trans, and non-binary people, who are constantly forced to be someone that they are not and are subjected to coercion to disclose and prove their gender identity and sex. We reiterate that being coerced into disclosing one’s gender identity and sex is a serious breach of privacy that triggers a domino effect in terms of gender-based discrimination.

Religion and relationship with God is personal and self-determined. We firmly believe that all people have the right to manifest their religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance in accordance with Article 18 of the universal declaration of human rights on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

We call for the government to refrain from being reactionary, as it has harmful unintended consequences. The government should engage with LGBTIQ human rights groups in order to effectively respond to these issues and address the root causes of gender discrimination and human rights violations against intersex, transgender, non binary persons.

Terms (source GLAAD’s media guide, UN free & equal fact sheet: intersex

Trans – Used as shorthand to mean transgender – or sometimes to be inclusive of a wide variety of identities under the transgender umbrella.

Transgender – An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression ‘differs’ from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. mak nyah is a colloquial term used for trans women. Wanita or perempuan transgender or trans are other acceptable terms for trans women. Lelaki transgender refer to trans men.

Intersex – Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth while in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal intersex variations may not be physically apparent at all. Khunsa is a term used for intersex persons in Malaysia.

Non binary – Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms

Cisgender – A term used by some to describe people who are not transgender. “Cis-” is a Latin prefix meaning “on the same side as,” and is therefore an antonym of “trans-.” A more widely understood way to describe people who are not transgender is simply to say non-transgender people.