Malaysia — Transsexuals in the country are not being discriminated but the ‘culture’ is not encouraged, either.
This is the sentiment of two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) following a foreign report that transsexuals in Malaysia are gaining acceptance within the local community.
In the report by Associated Press yesterday, Jessie Chung, the Malaysian transsexual who made national headlines when she married an accountant in a public wedding last year, claimed that anti-discrimination campaigns by local NGOs have helped changed the public’s perception on transsexuals.
National Council of Women’s Organisation deputy president Faridah Khalid, said though NGOs do not encourage transsexuals, they don’t discriminate them either.
“Our anti-discrimination campaigns don’t focus on transsexuals but communities which are prone to sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV and AIDS.
This includes gays, lesbians, sex-workers and drug addicts.
“We do not want these groups to go underground because that would lead to a lot of other social problems.
By identifying who they are, we are able to approach them and address their issues,she told The Malay Mail.
Faridah said when the Government can’t address a particular issue, especially something as sensitive as this, that’s when NGOs come in.
Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia project director Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin felt that the statement by Chung may not be properly measured.
“I wouldn’t say they are gaining acceptance in society because there are many others who feel otherwise, like the elderly who value tradition and culture.
“The culture may pose a threat to the younger generation as they are more exposed to modern technology,he said.
Nirwandy said transsexuals, gays and lesbians may not be aware of it but their conduct in public may cause discomfort or unease among the local community.
“Though many do not accept it, we still tolerate it because it is their right.
He said the Government should conduct proper research on such cultures to ensure that future generations are not affected.
In the report, Chung, who was born a male and had a sex-change surgery in 2003, had claimed that Malaysian transsexuals are “luckier than those in some other places.
She had said: “I know this because when I walk down the streets, strangers who recognise me often approach me with encouraging words.
Our society is becoming more open-minded.
Chung, a Christian in her 30s, married accountant Joshua Beh in front of 800 guests in a ceremony conducted by independent church pastors on Nov 12, 2005.
However, the Government ruled the marriage invalid as it considered it a same-sex union.
Chung’s identification documents state that she is a man, since local transsexuals cannot legally update their gender status even after changing sex