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.

TDOR: Ending gender based violence against transgender & gender diverse persons in malaysia

Today, on transgender day of remembrance (TDOR), we remember transgender and gender diverse persons who have died due to gender based violence and hate. Transgender and gender diverse persons are disproportionately vulnerable to gender based violence due to multiple factors, including lack of protection, recognition of transgender persons and gender diverse populations, access to information regarding gender identity, among other factors.

Globally, between October 2017 and September, a total of 2018,369 trans and gender-diverse people were reportedly killed. This is an increase of 44 cases compared to last year’s reported numbers cases. This brings to a total of 2,982 trans and gender diverse people of cases of murder reported in 72 countries between January 2008 and September 2018.

However, these are only the reported numbers. Many cases are not reported or misreported. Case in point, the murder trial of a trans woman involving two Chilean tourists that concluded recently on 2 November 2018. Media reports of the trial show that the victim, a trans woman was misgendered throughout the trial. When trans people are misgendered (use of wrong gender markers), it not only strips away trans people’s dignity and right to self-determination, but it also makes it challenging to document and collate cases of crimes against trans people.

In Malaysia, between 2007 and November 2018, at least 14 cases of murder involving trans women as victims were reported. The most recent case reported was in November this year, where a trans woman was allegedly murdered by her partner. The perpetrator has been charged with murder and awaits trial early next year. He was not represented by a lawyer.

While some these cases are investigated, often they are not classified and analyzed correctly using a gender and rights based lens. They are seen, as isolated cases, which result in lack of specific interventions or solutions to the gender-based violence, hate crimes and transphobia experienced by trans people. Consequently, these experiences of violence and crimes by trans people remain invisible, become prolonged and cyclic.

According to the facts of the recent case, an altercation between the perpetrator and victim occurred concerning jealousy and money related issues, which escalated to the death of the woman after the perpetrator, strangled her. Similar cases involving trans women have been documented and reported in the past. In 2016, a trans woman was found murdered after an altercation with allegedly her boyfriend.

Rising hate crime and speech

Hate crimes and speech towards transgender people online and offline are on the rise and correlate. The increase of hateful and discriminatory speech in Malaysia emboldens the perpetrators and vigilante groups to carry out acts of violence against transgender persons with impunity.

In August 2018, a trans woman in Negeri Sembilan was assaulted by a group of men, including youths, resulting in serious injuries, including broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. Justice for Sisters also received complaints of harassment of trans women by vigilante groups in Kedah. While these are enough to ring alarm bells, we believe there are many other cases of hate crimes.

Recent trends to of boycotts and protest against transgender women entrepreneurs on social media are also a point of concern. In October 2018, a few trans women entrepreneurs were prevented from participating in an expo in Perak due to protest by local groups. This further demonstrates the shrinking spaces and the escalation of violence towards trans people.

TDOR reminds us of the impact of marginalization and multiple forms of oppression that trans and gender-diverse people face daily. Together we can change this situation and dismantle oppression. Together we are in solidarity with trans and gender diverse people everywhere resisting and dismantling oppression.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) removes trans identities as a mental disorder to dismantle stigma

On 19 June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which includes the long overdue removal of all trans-related diagnoses from the mental disorders chapter. This is a historic milestone towards depathologisation or the declassification of trans identities as a medical condition and eliminating stigma, discrimination and barriers to fundamental human rights, including rights to self-determination and right to health.

Gender incongruence, which is “characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex,” is now reclassified under sexual health conditions in the ICD-11.

The classification of trans identities as a mental health disorder have not only adversely contributed to an inaccurate and discriminatory perception of trans people, but also multiple forms of violence, humiliating and dehumanizing experiences, denial of rights, and efforts to ‘correct’ trans people. In Malaysia, for example, multiple state-funded efforts that aim to correct and rehabilitate transgender persons and school children based on gender expressions have been introduced since 2010. Additionally,  the return to the right path or ‘balik ke pangkal jalan’ rhetoric adds multiple forms of pressure and burden on trans persons to ‘change’, which causes psychological and emotional harm, among others.

This significant revision provides further evidence that trans identities are not a form of mental disorder, and should signal the revision of harmful and non-evidence based policies and laws that criminalize transgender persons, as well as the reversal of discriminatory practices.

The classification of trans-related diagnosis as a sexual health condition implies that all treatment of trans-related conditions must be treated with evidence based medical approaches. We urge the Ministry of Health and other relevant government agencies to study the ICD-11 in order to ensure that state policies, especially public health policies are in accordance with current medical and scientific understanding, standards and ethics of good medical practice as well as standards of human rights.

We also urge the newly instated Malaysian government to engage transgender persons and human rights groups to address the discrimination and marginalisation faced by transgender persons. Consistent with the objectives of the ICD-11 to eliminate barriers and meet the healthcare needs of transgender persons, we also urge the Ministry of Health to introduce trans-specific healthcare services as well as improve overall access to healthcare for trans people. This necessitates the removal of barriers that trans people face in accessing healthcare, including stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings, the inaccessibility of legal gender recognition and the lack of expertise of healthcare workers.

Media release: Gender education, not gender test, will end discrimination against Sajat

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned over the speculation and scrutiny of Nur Sajat’s gender identity and the escalation of events concerning this matter. We echo Nur Sajat’s assertion that her gender identity is not, and should not, be a matter of national interest.

As stipulated by the Article 5 of the Federal Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all persons are born equal and free and are entitled to live their lives with dignity. The continued harassment of the celebrity and entrepreneur on social media by members of the public, and persecution by Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), is a blatant violation of Nur Sajat’s rights.

JAKIM had reportedly visited Sajat on 20th January 2018 with her parents present. While the meeting was described as “positive,” JAKIM then announced its plan to conduct a test to determine Sajat’s gender identity.

We are concerned that this move by JAKIM will further victimize and bring humiliation to Nur Sajat. Her well being and dignity should always remain the utmost priority, as she has been the recipient of hateful comments, investigation and disclosure of personal information since 2016, all due to her gender identity.

We firmly believe that no one should be subjected to gender or medical tests to prove their gender identity. This process is inherently intrusive, degrading, dehumanizing, and most importantly, unnecessary.

We emphasize that gender identity is not determined by our genitals. In addition, both sex and gender identity is a spectrum, consisting of many identities that are not limited to male, female, women, men. People who are intersex, transgender, gender queer are equally normal identities that exist similar to cisgender persons, or people whose identities assigned at birth ‘match’ their lived experiences or how they feel and identify. We reiterate that neither sex nor gender identity are a binary.

We therefore condemn any initiatives or attempts to incite such initiatives of verifying anyone’s gender identity. If JAKIM insists on pursuing this course of action, we demand that JAKIM make public what is entailed as their gender test, and all related processes.

It is important to note that many countries have moved away from a medicalized approach on sex and gender due to its intrusive nature. In fact, medical examinations are not necessary and its prohibited to request for medical assessment in many countries, including Malta that has mechanisms for trans and intersex people to change their details assigned at birth.

Instead of focusing on Nur Sajat’s gender identity, we call the government to take meaningful measures to increase understanding and educate government agencies and members of the public regarding gender identity and gender based bullying and violence. Nur Sajat has consistently experienced gender based online bullying as result of the speculation and scrutiny of her gender identity. [1][2] Since 2016, Sajat has experienced disclosure of personal information, including her identification card [3] and alleged childhood photos[4]; pressured by online users to ‘change’ or ‘return to the right path’,[5] forcing her to disclose personal details about herself publicly; hateful comments; name calling; calls for investigations and more. We believe such harassment is serious, harmful, and should not be normalized. We emphasize that the state has an obligation to protect all persons from discrimination and violence, including transgender, intersex and gender queer persons.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. Trans men of Malaysia
  3. SEED Malaysia
  4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor
  5. Sisters in Islam
  6. Women’s Aid Organisation
  7. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  8. Association of Women Lawyers
  9. PELANGI – Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative
  10. Komuniti Muslim Universal
  11. PLUHO, People Like Us, Hang Out!
  12. SUARAM Malaysia
  13. Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH)
  14. The Malaysian Feminist
  15. Seksualiti Merdeka
  16. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
  17. PLUsos

[1] ‘Ada pihak tak senang pencapaian saya’ –  Nur Sajat

[2] Dianggap Mak Nyah, Akhirnya Nur Sajat Dedah Beliau Sebenarnya Dilahirkan Khunsa

[3] Gambar Kad Pengenalan Nur Sajat Tersebar Membuktikan Bahawa Dirinya Sebenarnya Adalah Lelaki?

[4] 3 Gambar Bukti Nur Sajat Adalah Seorang Lelaki?

[5] Mak nyah, Nur Sajat dedah beliau sebenarnya dilahirkan khunsa


Keadilan untuk Sameera – Pastikan siasatan yang teliti dan mereka di sebalik pembunuhan Sameera dibawa ke muka pengadilan


Kami seperti yang tertera di bawah amat sedih berikutan pembunuhan kejam Sameera Krishnan, seorang wanita transgender atau mak nyah muda pada 23 Februari 2017 sekitar jam 3.30 pagi di Kuantan, Malaysia. Sameera bukan sahaja diserang dengan pisau dan ditetak pada bahagian tangan, kaki, kepala, serta kaki, dia juga ditembak sebanyak tiga kali. Sameera bekerja sebagai seorang penjual bunga di Kuantan dan dikenali oleh keluarga serta rakan-rakannya sebagai seorang yang lemah lembut dan rendah hati. Pengebumian Sameera telah disempurnakan pada Jumaat, 24 Februari, yang juga merupakan tarikh lahirnya.

Kami mengalu-alukan siasatan pembunuhan tersebut oleh pihak polis yang dilakukan secara segera, dan berharap pihak polis akan menerbit hasil siasatan ini kepada orang awam. Kami berharap keadilan dapat dilaksanakan untuk Sameera. Pembunuhan yang tidak berperikemanusiaan ini telah dikenalpasti berhubung dengan sebuah kes yang masih berterusan melibatkan Sameera di mana pada Februari 2015, Sameera telah diculik dan dirogol oleh beberapa orang samseng. Sameera telah ditetapkan untuk muncul di mahkamah pada bulan hadapan sebagai saksi utama kes ini.

Sementara kita menunggu siasatan dan motif pembunuhan tersebut dikenalpasti pihak polis, adalah penting untuk mengakui bahawa wanita trans menghadapi jenayah kebencian dan keganasan yang melampau dan luar biasa berdasarkan identiti gender mereka. Antara sebab berlakunya keganasan sebegini termasuklah kekurangan perlindungan undang-undang, penganiayaan, persepsi negatif masyarakat terhadap individu trans, diskriminasi, dan sebagainya.

Antara 2007 dan 2016, sekurang-kurangnya 10 kes pembunuhan telah dilaporkan oleh pihak media. Dalam 10 kes-kes ini, wanita-wanita trans telah menghadapi keganasan yang melampau termasuklah dipukul dengan tukul sehingga mati, dicekik, ditikam berkali-kali, diserang secara fizikal, ditolak keluar bangunan, dilemaskan dalam kolam takungan air dan sebagainya. Walau bagaimanapun, kebanyakan kes jenayah kebencian dan keganasan terhadap golongan trans tidak dilaporkan dan tidak didokumentasikan.

Laporan media dan misgendering

Misgendering, iaitu penggunaan nama atau kata ganti nama atau rujukan lain yang tidak mencerminkan identiti gender seseorang, terhadap Sameera telah menerima kritikan meluas masyarakat dan aktivis trans termasuklah kumpulan seperti Persatuan Tamil Thirunangai Malaysia. Pihak media telah menunjukkan ketidakpekaan dan sikap tidak hormat terhadap Sameera dan individu trans lain, tidak memedulikan langsung trauma dan kehilangan yang dihadapi oleh ahli-ahli keluarga serta individu-individu tersayang Sameera.

Beberapa laporan media tentang pembunuhan Sameera terutamanya sekali artikel-artikel berbahasa Melayu merujuk kepada Sameera dengan terma-terma negatif yang mengaibkan dan tidak menyenangkan seperti ‘pondan’, ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’, ‘lelaki transeksual’ dalam tajuk dan kandungan artikelnya.

Walaupun beberapa media seperti Harian Metro telah menukar perkataan ‘pondan” (terma yang mempunyai konotasi negatif terhadap wanita trans dan lelaki gay cisgender, terutamanya yang disifatkan sebagai ‘lembut’) dalam tajuk artikel mereka kepada “Mak Nyah” (terma yang sesuai untuk merujuk kepada wanita trans), terma tersebut tidak digunakan secara konsisten, menyeluruh dan memuaskan. Sebagai contoh, artikel Harian Metro tersebut yang bertajuk ‘Mak Nyah maut ditembak, ditetak’ masih mengandungi konsep salah ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’ dalam kandungan artikelnya. Wanita trans bukan ‘lelaki yang berperwatakan perempuan’. Hal ini menunjukkan kurang pemahaman tentang identiti gender dan kepelbagaian gender. Tambahan pula, Mutiara FM, sebuah stesen radio tempatan, dalam rancangan paginya merujuk kepada Sameera sebagai seorang lelaki trans sambil menggelakkan identiti gendernya.

Misgendering yang konsisten dan sengaja merupakan satu bentuk keganasan kerana hal ini mejatuhkan martabat serta maruah diri individu transgender. Selain itu, misgendering juga mempunyai kesan jangka panjang yang mendalam terhadap keyakinan diri individu-individu transgender. Kami menggesa orang ramai untuk menggunakan istilah yang tepat dan tidak mempunyai konotasi negatif seperti mak nyah, trans woman, perempuan atau wanita transgender, dan transgender women. (Sila lihat analisa media dan panduan media terbitan Justice for Sisters)

Keganasan yang dialami oleh individu-individu trans tidak berlaku secara tiba-tiba dan merupakan simptom atau kesan daripada peminggiran dan halangan-halangan yang dihadapi mereka. Adalah penting untuk kita menghapuskan semua bentuk stigma dan diskriminasi yang dihadapi oleh individu-individu trans yang terus meletakkan mereka dalam situasi-situasi yang berisiko tinggi.

Semua orang, tanpa mengira identiti jantina perlu dilindungi daripada keganasan. Kami menggesa pihak berkuasa dan media untuk melayan individu trans dengan hormat dan bermaruah. Kami juga menggesa pihak polis segera membawa para penjenayah di sebalik pembunuhan Sameera ke muka pengadilan.

Disokong oleh: (menurut abjad)

  1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  2. Association of Women Lawyers Malaysia (AWL)
  3. Community Development Centre (CDC)
  4. HAKAM, National Human Rights Society
  5. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  6. Justice for Sisters (JFS)
  7. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  8. Tirunangai Uthavi Karagal
  9. The G-Blog
  10. Transmen of Malaysia (TOM)
  11. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  12. PELANGI — Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative
  13. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  14. Persatuan Tamil Thirunangai Malaysia
  15. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  16. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia
  17. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Sinar Pelangi (PKSP)
  18. PT Foundation
  19. Seksualiti Merdeka
  20. SEED Malaysia
  21. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  22. Suaram Malaysia
  23. Voice of Community (VOC)
  24. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  25. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)

Jantina atau seks yang diberikan ketika lahir –   Identiti yang diberikan mengikut alat kelamin, selalunya perempuan, lelaki, dll. Walau bagaimanapun, jantina atau seks merujuk kepada kombinasi kromosom, organ seksual dan reproduktif luaran dan dalaman, ciri-ciri seks sekunder serta komposisi hormon.

Identiti gender – Identifikasi peribadi (contohnya: perempuan, lelaki, gender fluid atau queer, dsb) berdasarkan cara kita melihat dan mengenali diri sendiri. Selalunya, identiti gender diberikan ketika lahir adalah tekaan berdasarkan alat kelamin luaran. Akan tetapi, identiti gender dan seks adalah dua perkara berbeza, dan tidak perlu sepadan, konsisten atau selari.

Cisgender – identiti gender dan jantina/seks yang diberikan ketika lahir ‘sepadan’

Transgender – identiti gender dan jantina/seks yang diberikan ketika lahir ‘tidak sepadan’

Trans -singkatan bagi transgender

Trans woman, mak nyah, wanita atau perempuan transgender – identiti gender individu transgender itu perempuan, atau mengenali dirinya sebagai seorang perempuan

Trans man, lelaki transgender – identiti gender individu transgender itu lelaki, atau mengenali dirinya sebagai seorang lelaki

Gender queer – seorang yang tidak mengenal pasti dirinya dengan mana-mana gender, semua gender, kombinasi gender, dan sebagainya

Untuk maklumat lanjut sila lihat gender bear


Justice for Sameera – Ensure thorough investigation & hold perpetrators accountable

c5bfqnnvmaavyrwWe, the undersigned, are deeply saddened by the senseless murder of Sameera Krishnan, a young transgender woman on 23rd February 2017 at about 3:30 a.m. in Kuantan, Malaysia.  Not only was she attacked with a knife and slashed in the hands, arms, head and legs, she was also shot three times. Sameera worked as a florist in Kuantan and is described by family and friends as a soft-spoken and a down-to-earth person. Her funeral was held on Friday, 24th February, which happened to be her birthday.

We welcome the prompt investigation of the murder by the police, and look forward to the outcome of the investigation, and justice being served. Sameera’s murder is allegedly linked to a previous case that involves her abduction and rape by a couple of gang members in February 2015. The case is still on going, and Sameera was set to appear in court next month.

As we await the outcome of the investigation and the motives of the murder by the police, it is important to acknowledge that transgender women often experience brutal and extreme forms of violence due their gender identity. Compounding the violence is the lack of protection, persecution of trans people, the negative perception of transgender persons in society and discrimination among other things.

Between 2007 and 2016, at least 10 cases of murder have been reported in the media. However, many other cases of hate crime and violence are unreported and undocumented.  In these 10 cases, the trans women were subjected to brutal violence, including being beaten to death with a hammer, strangled, gagged, stabbed multiple times, physically assaulted, pushed from a building, drowned in a water retention pond, etc.

Media reporting and misgendering

The misgendering of Sameera received wide criticism by the public and transgender activists as well as groups, including the Malaysian Tamil Trans Women Association. The media showed gross insensitivity and disrespect towards transgender persons, and complete disregard to the trauma and loss faced by Sameera’s family members and loved ones.

Several media reports of her murder, especially articles in the Malay language misgendered Sameera as ‘pondan’, ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’, ‘lelaki transeksual’,‘transgender in woman’s attire’, and ‘transvestite’ in their headlines or article. While some media, including Harian Metro changed their headlines from “Pondan” (negative term used against trans women and cisgender gay men, especially effeminate gay men) to “Mak Nyah” (an acceptable colloquial term to describe transgender women) there was a lack of consistency and meaningful effort in these changes. For example, an article by Harian Metro entitled ‘Mak Nyah maut ditembak, ditetak’ still contained ‘lelaki berperwatakan perempuan’ (man with women characteristics) in its article. In addition, Mutiara FM, a local radio station in a morning programme, referred to Sameera as a transgender man, and laughed at her gender identity.

Consistent and intentional misgendering is a form of violence, and it degrades and dehumanizes transgender persons. In addition, misgendering has adverse and long lasting impact trans people’s self-esteem. We urge everyone to use accurate, affirming and respectable terms such as “mak nyah“, trans woman, “perempuan” or “wanita transgender“, and transgender women.  (See media analysis and media guides by Justice for Sisters)

The violence experienced by transgender persons does not happen in vacuum, and it is symptomatic of the marginalization and lack of inclusion of trans people in society. It is important that we dismantle all forms of stigma and discrimination faced by transgender persons that continues to place trans people in vulnerable situations.

All persons, regardless of gender identity should be protected from violence. We urge the authorities and the media, especially journalists and editors to treat trans people with respect and dignity, and bring the perpetrators of Sameera’s brutal murder to justice.


Assigned sex at birth – identity assigned based on genitals, typically, female, male, etc. however, sex or sex characteristics refer to a combination of chromosomes, internal and external sexual organs, secondary sex characteristics, and hormones.

Gender identity – personal sense of identification (typically, girl, boy, gender fluid or queer etc.) based on how one feels and sees themselves. Typically, gender identity is also assigned at birth according to genital based on assumption. However, gender identity and sex are two separate things, and do not have be consistent, aligned or match.

Cisgender – a person whose sex assigned at birth ‘match’ their gender identity

Transgender – a person whose sex assigned at birth ‘does not match’ their gender identity

Trans woman – a transgender person whose gender identity is a girl/woman

Trans man – a transgender person whose gender identity is a boy/man

Gender queer – a person identifies as neither girl/woman or boy/man, non-binary, combination of gender categories or other forms of gender identity

See gender bear for more information

Endorsed by:  (in alphabetical order)

  1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  2. Association of Women Lawyers Malaysia (AWL)
  3. Community Development Centre (CDC)
  4. HAKAM, National Human Rights Society
  5. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  6. Justice for Sisters (JFS)
  7. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  8. Tirunangai Uthavi Karagal
  9. The G-Blog
  10. Transmen of Malaysia (TOM)
  11. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  12. PELANGI — Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative
  13. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  14. Persatuan Tamil Thirunangai Malaysia
  15. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  16. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia
  17. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Sinar Pelangi (PKSP)
  18. PT Foundation
  19. Seksualiti Merdeka
  20. SEED Malaysia
  21. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  22. Suaram Malaysia
  23. Voice of Community (VOC)
  24. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  25. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)


Brief media analysis – Sameera’s case #justiceformeera


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


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

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


Lelaki berperwatakan wanita

(Man behaving as a woman)

4 Mak nyah maut ditembak, ditetak [METROTV]

Harian Metro

Lelaki Berperwatakan Wanita Maut Ditembak


Lelaki berperwatakan wanita maut ditembak


Lelaki berperwatakan wanita maut ditembak, tetak

Utusan Malaysia




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


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


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

media release: Uphold right to identity of transgender persons

The Malaysian transgender community and its allies are appalled and disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal on 5th January 2017 to retract the High Court order to the National Registration Department (NRD) to change the name, gender marker and last digit of the identification card number of a trans man in his National Registration Identity Card (NRIC). The decision disregards current scientific and medical understanding of gender identity as well as the realities and lived experiences of transgender people. It also displays a wilful ignorance of good practices worldwide with regards to the role of the state in its duty to uphold and protect the rights of transgender persons.

Sex is a biological construct that is usually assigned at birth based on the visible genitalia of a child. However, it comprises other aspects, including chromosomes, gonads, secondary sex characteristics and others. Gender is a personal identity based on one’s experience of one’s own gender. Sex and gender are both basic characteristics of all human beings and do not have be aligned. Legal documents, including the NRIC, bearing gender markers that do not reflect the bearer’s gender identity poses systemic and structural discrimination, which severely impedes their quality of life. For example, this mismatch poses a constant risk of humiliation and harassment to transgender persons from other people or groups.

Seeking evidence of medical intervention in order to legally recognise a transgender person’s gender is not only a backdated practice, but also exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of transgender people and gender identity. Aside from issues of affordability, accessibility to healthcare and legal barriers that impede access to healthcare; fundamentally, gender identity is not determined by our genitals. Withholding legal gender recognition of transgender people except with medical evidence that they have undergone all possible surgical and medical interventions in order to ‘completely’ transition is harmful to well-being of transgender persons, and places trans people at the risk of undergoing unwanted procedures.

On top of that, asking for evidence of chromosomal change is, as quoting Justice S. Nantha Balan who presided over the case at the High Court, “The male XY and female XX chromosome will remain static throughout the individual’s natural life. To insist on the “chromosomal requirement is to ask for the impossible.” Someone who is transgender does not identify with the sex they were assigned with at birth. While there are procedures to closer align external body parts to one’s self-image, science has yet to come up with ways to change one’s gonads or chromosomes. This makes it impossible for Malaysian transgender persons to access their fundamental human right to identity. It is important for the courts and the state agencies to keep themselves updated on current information and scientific knowledge of sex and gender. Our ignorance and lack of understanding cannot perpetuate the marginalization and violence that is so prevalent towards trans people. Most importantly, any discourse of transgender people must be guided by evidence and lived experiences of trans people.

We urge the government, the judiciary and the National Registration Department to look at practices and policy in countries like Malta, Ireland, Colombia, Argentina and Denmark with regards to legal gender recognition. In these countries, legal gender recognition is a simple and hassle-free administrative procedure that legally recognises a person’s self-determined gender with a simple declaration, without any need for medical or psychological intervention or assessments. While this does not solve all the issues that transgender people face in Malaysia, it will significantly improve the quality of life for transgender people in Malaysia. The National Registration Department must review its current practices and policy in order to reduce harm towards trans people and afford transgender people a greater ability to rightfully participate as part of society.


MUST READ: High court decision on change of name & gender marker

A recent decision on name and gender change gives new hope. download and read the decision here. HC 2016 Nantha Balan Tan vs NRD

“The Plaintiff has a precious constitutional right to life under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution and the concept of ‘life’ under Article 5 must necessarily encompass the Plaintiff’s right to live with dignity as a male and be legally accorded judicial recognition as a male.” Justice Nantha Balan

Some salient points:

Page 31

Arahan Jabatan Pendaftran Negara Bil. 9/2007 paragraph 5.7.1 states that change in gender marker on identification card is not allowed except with a court order. Four documents that are required to change name and gender on the identification card:

  1. Court order that includes the details of the requested gender
  2. Supporting letter from a government doctor (if available)
  3. Letter to confirm gender affirmation surgeries by the hospital that provided the services
  4. Birth certificate (original and copy)

Arahan Jabatan Pendaftran Negara Bil. 9/2007 paragraph 5.7.1  pindaan jantina dalam kad pengenalan adalah tidak dibenarkan kecuali aas perintah mahkamah. Dokumen yang diperlukan

  1. perintah mahkamah yang mengandungi butir-butir pengisytiharan jantina baru pemohon
  2. surat pengesahan doktor kerajaan (jika ada)
  3. surat pengesahan pembedahan penukaran jantina yang dikeluarkan oleh hospital berkenaan
  4. sijil lahir (asal dan salinan)

The courts in Malaysia use Corbett vs Corbett and Bellinger vs Bellinger as precedents. Based on the precedents, four criteria are considered, which includes: chromosomal, gonadal, genital and psychological factors. However, neither chromosome nor genitals determine our gender identity. The current change of name and gender change process is based on operative status and medical intervention.

Mahkamah di Malaysia menggunakan legal precedents Corbett vs Corbett and Bellinger vs Bellinger. berdasarkan dua kes ini, empat kriteria perlua diambil kira: kromosom, gonad (organ reproduktif), genital dan faktor psychology. seperti mana yang kita tahu, kromosom atau genital tidak menentukan identiti gender kita. proses ini berdasarkan status pembedahan dan intervensi perubatan. oleh yang demikian, proses ini terbatas kepada mereka yang sudah menjalani pembedahan.

In addressing the chromosomal criteria, Judge Nantha Balan followed the approach taken by the Family Court in Australia in Attorney General For the Commonwealth v Ken and Others 2003, where “the court emphasized on the importance abandoning the chromosomal factor and highlighting the imperative need to view the matter from the physiological and physiological perspective.”


Gender spectrum(EN)_v3

Justice for all regardless of gender identity

Justice for Sisters is appalled by the news of a trans woman who was fined RM 700 on June 21 for failing to produce her identification card. She apparently stated that she had just been released from jail and suffered from tuberculosis. The Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nur Farah Adilah Noordin urged the court to impose a heavy sentence to serve as a lesson. The woman was not represented in court.

Access to justice, and the right to redress and remedy are our fundamental human rights guaranteed in several clauses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution. In 2011, after hearing that ‘an estimated 80% of those tried in court for criminal offences did not have legal representation,’ the Malaysian government launched the National Legal Aid Foundation. Despite this effort, many people continue to be tried in court without representation, and as a result are imposed harsh and sometimes excessive penalties.

Because of their gender identity and the resulting systemic and social discrimination and prejudice, trans people are even more vulnerable and disproportionately face barriers when attempting to access justice. They are arrested more frequently, and hence encounter a higher incidence of trial without representation. Based on media reports and our documentation, at least 63 trans women were arrested between January and May 2016 in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Kedah and Pahang by police and the state religious departments for simply being themselves.

It is extremely distressing that the DPP urged the court to impose a heavy sentence simply to serve as a lesson to the trans woman for failing to produce her IC, while ignoring her reasons. The DPP’s heavy handed recommendations are problematic, and underscore the multiple forms of stigma, discrimination and prejudice that the trans woman was subjected to because of her gender identity, history of being jailed and having a criminal record, history of drug use, and so on.

In Malaysia, the system causes and reinforces the targeting and discrimination trans people. Trans people are not allowed to change their name, gender, and the last digit in their identification card number or in any other legal documents. The government’s refusal to allow trans people to change details in their identification documents to reflect trans people’s authentic identities makes trans persons vulnerable to stigma, discrimination and violence, including denial of employment opportunities, humiliating experiences when forced to use their identification card, and arbitrary arrests, among others.

The imposition of punitive measures increases the challenges and barriers for people, especially transgender persons with criminal records, to reintegrate themselves into society, as they are continuously penalised over non-issues. This has a lasting and negative impact on a person’s wellbeing. In addition, the state must understand and address the barriers that people with criminal records face in securing jobs, finding housing, reconciling relationships with friends and family among others. It is absurd and inhumane to continue penalising and profiting from people who have been failed by the system.


We are further appalled by the continuous misgendering and the use of inaccurate terms by the media, such as Bernama, to address transgender persons. Trans women are not cross dressers. Overwhelming evidence shows that trans people have existed throughout humanity, and gender identity refers to a personal sense of belonging and identification to being a girl/woman, boy/man, neither, both, a combination of gender categories and more. All identities are normal.

The news focused on her clothing and accessories, which was unnecessary and sensationalist. All people, including transgender persons have the right to self-determination to their identity, and freedom of expression. We call on the media to adopt a positive role in the promotion of human rights, and not reinforce prejudices that bar marginalised people from living their lives with dignity.