Many thanks to Professor Teh Yik Khoon for her permission to reproduce her article “Transsxualism Is A Biological Phenomenon”. This article was originally published in www.malaysiakini.com on 25th January 2006.
I refer to all the letters published recently on transsexuals. I feel that as a researcher in this area, I should speak out. Why is it so difficult for people to accept a person who is different from the norm even though this person has not done anything bad or hampered their quality of life? Why must people always be so judgmental and think that they are better than others?
They judge not only the transsexuals, but also physically challenged people, mentally-ill people, etc. Don’t forget that when you judge others and create hell for others, you are also being judged by God. God tells us to be kind and compassionate to others; not to take away the quality of life of others. At the end of the day, transsexuals themselves are going to answer to God, not to other people. So, please let God be the ultimate judge and not us.
As a researcher, there is already enough scientific research in the area of transsexualism to convince my colleagues and I that transsexualism refers to a biological phenomenon. This research is published in reputable journals as well as on the Internet. The debate on this issue goes on because people, especially those in authority, refuse to accept these scientific findings.
MCA’s Wanita chief Dr Ng Yen Yen did speak as a medical doctor once in support of transsexuals’ rights sometime back because she is aware of these scientific research.
The myths that male to female transsexuals are influenced to be one by their peers, that their parents dressed them up as girls when they were young because they wanted a daughter, that they were the only male child and were influence by their many sisters or that they were sexually abused when small, are still widely believed in society, including among professionals, as shown in TV3’s ‘Wanita Hari Ini’ programme on Nov 30 last year.
My research on 507 transsexuals in 2001, which has been peered reviewed internationally and accepted by the international academic community, shows nothing of the sort. Transsexuals start feeling different at a very young age, some as young as four or five years old. Their parents, especially their mothers, could not accept their cross-dressing let alone dressing them up as girls when they were small. They have both brothers and sisters as their role models. Many transsexuals were not sexually abused when small.
Researchers overseas that I know, including researchers like myself, started out wondering whether transsexualism is a social phenomenon. After carrying out our research, we all ended up believing strongly that you cannot ignore biological factors.
Concerning religion, I have spoken to an ustaz at Jakim (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam) and he said that if transsexualism is a biological factor, then Islam will have to reinterpret the matter. I hope the relevant authority will open up to the fact that transsexualism does have a biological factor. In Iran, the government has accepted the existence of transsexuals and pays for the sex change operation as they believe that quality of life is important to this community.
Lastly, I hope the media will be more balanced in their talk shows on marginalised communities as bias reporting will be very detrimental to their quality of life, creating more discrimination and marginalisation of these communities – like what TV3 has done with their ‘Wanita Hari Ini’ programme. I have already voiced out my dissatisfaction to them. Also, if everyone tries to have a friend among the transsexuals, you will have a different opinion about them.