Transsexuals in Malaysia

The situation for ladyboys in Malaysia is not that good as everybody knows. Just recently there have been 16 transgender contestants arrested at a Transsexual Beauty Pageant by the Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department. See the story here.

So what are the facts? I just found a nice article by Dina Zaman about that topic in the Star Online.

The collected the facts and she did it so good that I allow myself to quote her:

In Malaysia, derogatory slang to describe them would be pondans, laki lembut or mak nyah, though the latter term has been embraced by the community as an identifying factor in their cause.
The fact is, transsexuals have existed in our society even before Independence, and played a significant role in the community.
They’re the dapur pondans – kitchen helpers – who worked for families as cooks and cleaners in a long gone era, and in villages were known as meks, who acted as the local tailor, make-up artist and wedding planner.
It is fascinating to compare the fond memories of the older generation of Malaysians who grew up with transsexuals as neighbours and domestic help.
The argument that is bandied in contemporary Malaysia is that they knew their place, and were not ‘out there’ now as transsexuals who – as moralists have argued – contribute to moral decay.
From a religious standpoint, transsexualism is forbidden. Islam permits hermaphrodites to undergo sex change operations so the person can choose to be either a female or male.
Forbidden are mukhannis – men who behave like women and dress like them, and even undergoing sex change surgery to become women.
Non-Muslim transsexuals fare slightly better than their Muslim counterparts, as there is no official ruling as with the Muslims, even though their religions also forbid such actions. If caught, they would be charged for cross dressing and indecent behaviour under Section 21 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.
A Muslim man caught cross dressing can be charged under Section 28, Syariah Criminal Offences (FT) Act 1997, for immoral behaviour, and is liable to a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or to imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

That`s how it is. Seems like there is a lot to change and improve. But instead to rules are becoming even more rigid.


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