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PETALING JAYA: While the election fever is at its peak, the Malaysian transgender population of more than 30,000 are a forgotten lot, with neither side of the political divide making an earnest attempt to woo them.
Although many of the transgenders in the country are eligible voters, the majority have not registered as voters and even those registered shy away from casting their ballots.
“We want to vote but at this moment we will not as we are disappointed with the way the government and the media have treated and portrayed us…this issue should be taken up.
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“If it is addressed, then it would be a new beginning for the transgender community in the country,” said Malaysian Thirunangai Association founder Elisha Kor Krishnan.
“Our male names on our identification cards are being called out during polling and it is quite embarrassing in public when that happens. Even in hospitals, we are assigned to male doctors and admitted in a man’s ward. Our plight has never been looked into by the government.”
“There are 7, 800 registered non-Muslim transgender voters and also many others who are Muslim transgender voters. We do make a large number in Malaysia. But the problem is recognition. Both sides are not serious in tackling problems that we face”, she said.
Elisha also cited an example of politicians running down the transgender and not understanding their plight.
“Recently the Deputy Eduction Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said that LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender) is like a disease that can be cured. Now this politician must first research the subject before making a statement like that.
“Being a transgender is a natural process which cannot be stopped. It is also related to one’s medical condition,” she added.
‘We have rights too’
Another transgender who goes by the name of Seiko Reto, who is employed in a local firm, said: “Malaysians do not accept the transgender community and Malaysian politicians failed to realise that we have voting rights too.
“However as we are always targeted by the authorities and religious bodies, we are extremely disappointed with the government.”
“They are always politicising and using us as a tool in religious issues while trying to target majority votes. Even the mainstream media is portraying the transgender negatively in support of the politicians, who are against us.”
“We do not have a party representing us the parliament, neither is any MP in support of us. Hence, why should we vote at the general election,” she questioned.
She also took offence to Puad’s statement, saying that the deputy minister should have studied into the LGBT matter before making such remarks.
“He chooses to politicise the matter to win hardcore Muslim votes. The American Psychology Association studies have proven that being a transgender is not a medical illness and that any treatment for it could be hazardous for the patient,” she added.
Jelline Khor, another transgender, said while society should be moving forward, the reverse is happening in Malaysia.
“Society should be moving forward but unfortunately in the Malaysian context we are moving backwards. Religion and culture are both created by mankind, and it should not be used to discriminate an individual.”
“Politicians should not pretend as though the transgender society does not exist. People like Puad show their immaturity with these kind of statements. Before you talk about us, learn about transgenders. Do not just make statements to get votes.
“It is alright if you do not want to help us but please do not run us down,” she added.