In response to the raid on a transsexuals’ beuaty pageant reported by The Star on Sunday (June 27, 2008), one reader named Lilian Tan wrote a letter to the Star editor calling for respectful treatment towards transsexuals. Unfortunately, her letter has been followed by two mean spirited and bigoted letters:
Wednesday July 30, 2008
Transsexuals are ‘haram’ under Islamic law
I REFER to the letter “Transsexuals can’t help being who they are” (The Star, July 29) and would like to point out that to comment on such a thing and why action was taken, one should understand Islamic Law.
When the writer says that “It is more inhumane to force these men to dress like a men etc,” she is indirectly saying that Islamic Law is inhumane.
Non-Muslims could argue that, but as Muslims, we know that on every Law that the Quran and Hadith lay, there is a ‘Hikmah’ and we abide by it. Some Islamic Laws are for prevention rather than punishment. But haram is haram. Period.
We don’t use so called human rights to justify what we like and not like. Why stop there? Why not go all the way and support gay marriages? Why force some men to marry women when it goes against their true nature?
I don’t think the writer has ever gone to the back lane of Jalan Pasar or Lorong Haji Taib where men dress up as women. Some are so beautiful you would think they were women whose only crime was to “make a living.”
Thursday July 31, 2008
Transsexuals are not acceptable
I MUST say that if transsexuals can be described as “beautiful”, as Lilian Tan of Kuala Lumpur asserts, then the word “beautiful” must have acquired a completely new shade of meaning never before entered in any dictionary of the English language.
While we do not argue on the different inclinations of these people and the fact that “they cannot help being that way”, we certainly cannot make it acceptable or legal.
Ms Tan and those who share her views on this subject must be reminded that refuting one’s sexuality at birth is condemned by all religions as well as all civilised and decent traditions in millenniums of recorded history.
Countries around the world which have legalised homosexual and transsexual behaviour have consequently suffered a very steep decline in moral standards that in turn has led to the breakdown of the solid family structure and the isolation of the individual.
Criminality, terrorism and all types of physical and mental abuse come from lonely people who see society as alien, strange and identify it as an enemy.
Every human being has a right to life and freedom, but this freedom must not go against the laws of Nature and decorum. And no one can abuse you when you behave according to the law of both man and Nature.
It is not for me here to discuss or suggest what we should do to help people who display unnatural sexual tendencies. We have scientists, doctors, and counsellors who can better deal with that.
Suffice it to say that it is my sincere hope that the leaders of Malaysia, both Muslims and those of other faiths, will never label transsexual behaviour as acceptable.
Yuki Choe’s reponse to the letter (I) (which was sent to The Star but not published):
Wednesday July 30, 2008
I am absolutely sympathetic to AHQUA’s choice of a world without human rights. He does not understand what human rights are until the extent he calls it “so-called”. Perhaps he never felt inclined to find out what is it and never will be.
What is disturbing is his challenge to the integrity of human rights. Human rights existed for centuries since the advent of time. With it, the boundaries of colours were broken down, slavery was abolished and women were finally able to vote. The world is constantly progressing respecting individuals as human beings, each heading to his or her own destiny, and does not need any attempt by any parties to stunt their growth.
It is because of human rights AHQUA gets to think what he thinks, says what he says and do what he does. Sadly, it seems AHQUA do not feel this way about it. He seems to feel contempt to all the freedom he is having as a human. He feels safe and secure locked up in his own world, even as Islam is undergoing modernization into a loving religion.
He went on to attack the transsexual prostitutes at Jalan Pasar and Lorong Haji Taib, as if all transsexuals are prostitutes, as if they are doing a crime by selling themselves. He claims the writer of the letter he referred to never been there. May I say this. I have been there. I have spoke to these beautiful women whose souls are torn and the scars of living in a society where bigots like AHQUA still remain. I spoken to them on their hopes and dreams and moving forward, but for the prejudice of society unwilling to accept the fact that these people exist, and that they are real women after all.
Instead, I wonder if AHQUA ever asked these nice ladies why they are there. I will tell him now, straight at his face; it is because intolerant and discriminative people like AHQUA who wants them to stay that way for the rest of their lives instead of living in a society that treats them as equals and able to get a decent job with their qualifications as any girls would do.
AHQUA, I have got news for you. I am here, a young adult transsexual female. I am healthy, confident and fighting. Do you know in medical terms what a transsexual female is? Do you know what is known as the “Harry Benjamin Syndrome”? I doubt you do. So perhaps you should go and get yourself some education on this before perpetuating your ill-informed and highly dogmatic views on what transsexuals are. And AhQua is a hokkien term. Since when you became one?
Pink Triangle Foundation’s response (submitted to The Star, The Sun and Malaysiakini):
Friday August 1, 2008
Dear Sir / Madam
Your report on the raids by the Kelantan Islamic Religious Departmnent on July 27th, 2008of ‘transvestities’ at the Glam Nite Miss Universe
Asia 2008 Pageant in Kelantan and the subsequent letters from Lilian Tan, Ahqua and MBA, makes for interesting reading. But I am afraid, none of them helps to address the practical realities that NGOs like PT Foundation has to cope with on the ground.
There will always be a contention on whether transgenders should be allowed to be who they are, and whether such a life is ‘un-Islamic’. Regardless of what the judgement is, the maknyah community has and will continue its existence in Malaysia as they have always been even way before the colonisation of Malaysia (as mak andams and palace aids). Transgendered people are also found in all nations from USA, to India, China and Iran, and have played prominent roles in ancient history. Their continued existence, despite the most repressive and restrictive laws, suggest that more practical appraches are needed to deal with their existence.
Some of the very real issues that confronts all self respecting Malaysians is that the maknyah community is one of the most stigmatised, prejudiced and discriminated communities. They have problems staying in schools and colleges due to the taunting from peers and teachers, they are subjected to rigid religious education, strict discipline, and tremendous moral pressure from well meaning parents and kampung leaders. Some run away from home or are evicted. In adult life they find difficulty in getting jobs, and lodgings. It is no wander that many of them turn to sex work and the entertainment
Being disempowered and living on the borderline has made the maknyah community very susceptible to HIV. Unfortunately HIV recognizes no borders, and this infection is passed on to wives and children of the clients and partners of maknyahs. The rate of HIV infection among maknyahs if not contained will result in Malaysia failing to meet the United Nations Millenium Development Goals despite doing well in all other areas.
At PT Foundation (a non-governmental association dealing with HIV prevention among marginalised communities), our approach of being community-based, non-judgmental and non-confrontational, is showing positive results. The maknyah community are given basic welfare, hygiene and legal assistance. HIV prevention, care and support are key components of our programmes. Our engagement with the Jabatan Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) or the Federal Territory Islamic Department, has resulted in JAWI adopting a ‘dakwah’ approach in dealing with the maknyah community, that includes religious classes being conducted by JAWI and attended voluntarily by the maknyah community.
As a result, more maknyahs have opted to give up sex work and stop working in the entertainment industry. But they need a lot of help to move on in life such as training skills, job opportunities and most of all, the dignity to be treated as any other self respecting Malaysians.
They need the assistance of other state religious departments, welfare boards and people like Ahqua and MBA to help them get on with life. I for one believe that judgement is best left to be made by God on Judgement Day.
Acting Executive Director & Programme Director,
Pink Triangle Programme
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