LETTER | We, the group of transgender rights activists organised under Pertubuhan Kesihatan dan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) would like to reiterate our appeal to be assigned the gender identity of our choice for our national registration identity card (NRIC) which is under the purview of the National Registration Department.
Our concerns have been raised due to the issues faced by transsexual women who have been requesting to be recognised as female in their identity cards. We would like to highlight the debilitating social, economic, political and psychological impact of not being provided official recognition of our gender identity.
The stigma experienced by transsexual women has led to a vicious cycle of the community being deprived of the rights entrenched in the Constitution. Society discriminates against our community based on how we represent ourselves. Cases of violent hate crimes committed against our community do not see the light of justice.
We are repeatedly denied jobs, accommodation, access to public services and peace to perform our spiritual obligations in places of worship, denying us our humanity. Our role in society is mitigated by social sanctions that aim to suppress our existence.
Our basic rights to medical services such as outpatient and admission to public healthcare centres are affected which cause more problems to transsexual women. For instance, women transsexual patients are assigned to male wards because of the gender assigned in their NRIC. Reassignment to women’s wards is made in a few instances upon the recommendation of the attending doctor. However, only five beds are assigned to transgender women, which are beds located right at the end of a ward.
Doctors also lack knowledge of transsexual anatomy. Most disconcerting is the complaints by transsexual patients who allege sexual harassment at the male wards by male nurses or other male patients.
The economic deprivation due to the inability to earn a stable income caused by the gender assigned in their formal identity documents is the result of transsexual women being unable to get jobs despite their qualifications.
Organisations have very limited opportunities and vacancies available for members of the transsexual community. The hiring policies in these corporations are discriminatory and not held accountable for the discriminatory practices. We also have witnessed a backlash against transsexual women being appointed to positions in civil service which is highly discriminatory.
Apart from this, their appearance presents issues for the application of bank loans and other funding opportunities for business development. There have been cases where private banking institutions have denied the community the application of bank accounts for the very same reason.
Educational opportunities are also severely limited to transsexual women in public institutions of higher learning. Transsexual community members have not been accepted in government colleges, training institutions and public universities.
Admittedly, scholarships from both private and public institutions have not been offered to the transsexual community. This limits their opportunities to seek better employment and improving their chances for social mobility in the future.
We hope that Putrajaya will take into consideration all the issues mentioned above and grant NRIC to the Malaysian transsexual community based on their preferred gender identity.
If Putrajaya has any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us for a discussion.
The writer is the founder of Pertubuhan Kesihatan dan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM).
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