Malaysian project asks trans women to ‘return to normal’

Ghazali Taib faces reporters (Photo courtesy of Malaysiakini)
Terengganu executive council member Ghazali Taib faces reporters (Photo courtesy of Malaysiakini)
State-level officials in Malaysia are seeking to change trans women into men, a proposal that was met with dismay and intense criticism.

Thanks to ILGA’s LGBulleTIn for this news:

Malaysia: so-called ‘awareness course’ targeting trans women sparks outrage

Human rights defenders have strongly criticized the plan by the Terengganu state government to hold a so-called ‘awareness course’ aiming at bringing trans women “back to the right path”.
According to reports, such a course would involve medical, psychological and religious experts to “give (trans women) a path to make the best choices for their lives.”

Malaysian trans activist Nisha Ayub.
Malaysian trans activist Nisha Ayub.

Human rights defenders immediately condemned the initiative: “If you ask someone not to be themselves, that will have an adverse impact on the health and well-being of the person,” Thilaga Sulathireh, co-founder of trans rights group Justice for Sisters, was quoted as saying.

In a long Facebook post, activist Nisha Ayub further lambasted officials: “They need to know that all this kind of correction approaches and trying to change our gender identity does not help, but create more harms to the community,” she wrote. “Stop assuming that you can change a person into the mould of your own beliefs or understanding. This is not about a puppet, but about a human being.”

The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ has been legally challenged or banned in several countries around the world. “Such therapies”, reads a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “have been found to be unethical, unscientific and ineffective and, in some instances, tantamount to torture.”

According to Agence France-Presse:

Participation in the course would be voluntary, Terengganu executive council member Ghazali Taib said, adding that the programme would include medical, psychological and religious experts, as well as transgender women who have “returned to normal lives.”  …

There are no official figures on transgenders in Malaysia, though a Health Ministry document estimated that the country was home to 24,000 transgender sex workers as of 2014.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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