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.