A Malaysian trans woman has opened up about risking her safety simply by being herself.
Channel 4’s Unreported World spoke to a young trans figurehead about her experiences of growing up trans in the country
Though some Muslim countries such as Iran are surprisingly accepting of people who change their gender, Malaysia’s PM insists that the country’s interpretation of Islam is entirely incompatible with trans and LGB rights – and the religious police have strongly clamped down on the trans community.
Last year, Malaysia’s Federal Court upheld a ban on cross-dressing, which sees trans women in Malaysia criminalised as they are treated as ‘deviant’ men – and a number of transgender women have been jailed under the law.
Serafina is one of the people at the forefront of the battle – and has repeatedly faced arrest or persecution just for being who she is.
The young woman, who lives in the town of Seremban, is forced to carry an ID card stating that she’s a man, despite living as a woman for several years.
After challenging the law in the courts and losing out, religious police targeted Serafina even more intensely – and she now has to live in hotel rooms, moving every few months to evade capture.
Unable to get a job because she is trans, Serafina has instead been forced into sex work to make a living.
The trans woman taking on the stateShunned by her family, forced into sex work, persecuted by the religious police – but not defeated. Meet Serafina, the woman who’s become the face of resistance against the Islamic authorities for Malaysia’s transgender community (via Unreported World).
Posted by Channel 4 News on Monday, March 21, 2016
She explained “My family disowned me because I embarassed them. They can’t accept me. I miss them so much.
“I was arrested by the religious police. They felt me up and pulled my top up in front of everyone. That for me was the worst.
“People threw stones at me… people shouted ‘go to hell’. It’s hard to survive here.”
When asked about the case, Ibrahim Zamani from the country’s Department of Religious Affairs insisted: “If a man dresses up as a woman we still regard him as a man. He has strayed from what Allah created him for so he has to be treated.”