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Meet Nicole Fong - an activist researcher hoping to bring people together

MALAYSIANSKINI | Growing up attending local convent schools and later an international school in Hong Kong made Nicole Fong keenly aware that it’s very easy for us to live in bubbles, near to each other but rarely interacting.

Her interest in the points of intersection between different groups of people, coupled with a keen sense of justice, has made her life choices rewarding – as reflected in the three-year spell she enjoyed with Teach For Malaysia – an NGO that places aspiring changemakers in high-need schools, giving them grassroots contacts and experiences.

Last August, however, Fong saw a very different side of the system when the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) lodged a police report against her after she tweeted an infographic of the state-funded Mukhayyam programme, criticising it as an attempt to change gender identity and sexual orientation.

The build-up to the incident stemmed from an announcement in July when Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri gave the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) a “full licence” to arrest or provide religious education against the transgender community.

After reading that announcement, Fong began compiling some facts from news portals and research articles. She turned them into some infographics and posted them on her social media and initiated some discussions on the issue.

“We must stand in solidarity with our trans community as these laws, policies and narratives affect our access to basic rights such as employment, healthcare, education, legal gender recognition and access to fair justice, regardless of whether you are Muslim or non-Muslim, trans or cis,” she tweeted.

Unexpectedly the tweets drew the ire ...  

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