Brief media analysis – Sameera’s case #justiceformeera

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Justice for Sisters conducted a brief media analysis on 15 articles published between 22 and 24 February 2017 in relation to Sameera’s murder. The analysis is limited to articles in English and BM. However, many Chinese language and Tamil language media reported the news as well.

Language Number of articles
BM 10
English 5
Total articles 15

It is extremely important to understand that our gender identity and sex are two different things, and our gender identity is not determined by our genitals. All persons, including cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, and others are able to express and articulate their gender identity at a young age; some even as young as 4 or 5 years old. It is important to note that gender identity is not a binary, and all forms of gender identities are natural.

Despite the fact that headlines and articles explicitly mentioned that the news involves a transgender person, there were overemphasis and focus on her gender identity, sex assigned at birth and transition.

At least six (6) articles included Sameera’s sex assigned at birth and lived as a woman for the past eight years. An article in Harian Metro includes the fact that she had undergone gender affirmation surgeries at the age of 19. All of these facts are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Only 4 out of 15 articles used the right term (transgender woman, transgender, and mak nyah) and her name.

Date Title Media Term
23-Feb-17 Transgender woman found dead with gunshot wound The star online Transgender woman
24-Feb-17 Mak nyah mati ditetak, dikebumi di hari jadi Malaysiakini mak nyah
24-Feb-17 Transgender found dead, mutilated The star Transgender
24-Feb-17 Netizens fume over Shameera’s murder as she’s laid to rest on birthday The Malaysian times Transgender

Terms

The reports in Malay language were simply appalling, and lacked basic respect for Sameera and transgender persons in general. Articles by and sourced from Bernama addressed Sameera as ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’ and ‘transgender in woman’s attire’.

The report by News Straits Times used transvestite and male pronouns in the report to refer only to Sameera. The report did not include her name or name as per legal document. The report however, refers to other transgender women as ‘transwomen’ – “… the police are expected to question several transwomen here to shed further light on the matter.”

Terms Number of articles Media Source of article
A transgender in woman’s attire 1 Transgender shot three times and slashed

Free Malaysia Today

Bernama
Lelaki transseksual (Transsexual man) 1 Kes bunuh ‘mak nyah’ masih dalam siasatan

Utusan Malaysia

Pondan, mak nyah yang telah menjalani pembedahan menukar jantina
(Pondan, trans woman that has undergone sex change surgery)*pondan is pejorative term used for gay men, especially effeminate men and trans women.
1 Pondan dibunuh pada hari lahir

Kosmo

Lelaki berperwatakan wanita

(Man behaving as a woman)

4 Mak nyah maut ditembak, ditetak [METROTV]

Harian Metro

Lelaki Berperwatakan Wanita Maut Ditembak

Bernama

Lelaki berperwatakan wanita maut ditembak

Malaysiakini

Lelaki berperwatakan wanita maut ditembak, tetak

Utusan Malaysia

Bernama

 

Bernama

Mak Nyah

(Term used by the Malay trans women community)

4 Mak nyah maut ditembak, ditetak

Berita Harian

Mak nyah mati ditetak, dikebumi di hari jadi

Malaysiakini

Pembunuhan mak nyah masih misteri

Harian Metro

Ajal sehari sebelum hari lahir

Harian Metro

Transgender 2 Transgender found dead, mutilated

The Star

Netizens fume over Shameera’s murder as she’s laid to rest on birthday

The Malaysian Times

Transgender woman 1 Transgender woman found dead with gunshot wound

The Star Online

Transvestite 1 Transvestite found murdered, mutilated near Kuantan shops

News Straits Times

Name

Only 4 out of the 14 articles used Sameera’s name.

7 out 14 articles referred to Sameera by her legal name. Some of these articles mention that she goes by Sameera. However, those articles still use her legal name throughout the article.

Another 4 articles did not refer to her by name. 3 out of the 4 articles referred to her as ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’ and transvestite.

Good practices and examples

A few media showed good examples that can be followed by other media, editors and journalists.

  1. Transgender woman found dead with gunshot wound, The Star Online, 23 February 2017

This article is a good example. However, it is unnecessary to include the following point – “She added that Sameera was born male but had lived as a woman for the past seven to eight years.”

  1. Why transgenders move in groups, Free Malaysia Today, 26 February 2017

In this article transgender activists are interviewed to further understand the issues around safety and security of transgender persons, and impact of the murder of the transgender community as a whole. Brutal and violent incidents like this create adverse impact on the safety, security and freedom of movement of trans people. It is also important for us to understand that these cases are not isolated incidents, and examine the underlying factors and systemic issues that lead to such violence, and place trans people in vulnerable situations.

  1. Transgender’s mum: Why would anyone do this?, The Malay Mail and Malay Mail Online, 27 February 2017

This follow up piece includes interviews with Sameera’s family members, who shared their trauma, grief and loss following her tragic death. Articles like this are important as they humanize trans people, and give space for marginalized communities to share their pain

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