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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Thumbs up for policy on transvestites, transsexuals

Utusan Malaysia Online

KUALA LUMPUR Sept 15 - The move by the government to understand transsexuals and transvestites and draw up a policy on them is welcomed by the public and this "different" group in the community.
"They should be respected and acknowledged as normal human beings because despite the fact that they are physically and mentally different, underneath it all, they are the same, we are all human," said lecturer Adrian Yao told Bernama in a random survey of views from the people.
The lecturer in a private institution of higher learning here said transsexuals and transvestites are normally harmless and only a minority of them are involved in immoral activities.
"I think they have a right to earn respect from society," he said.
However, he admitted that Asian society, including Malaysia, is not as open to the concept of transsexuality and cross-gender issues compared with Western countries.
On Tuesday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil told the Dewan Rakyat that her ministry was gathering information on transsexuals and transvestites before drawing up a policy and actions to be taken on the matter.
Azlan, otherwise called "Nina", a cross-dresser, applauded the proposal to gather information and consult transsexuals and transvestites in drawing up a policy on this matter.
A phychology graduate from a local public university, he said it is high time for the country to acknowledge people like himself and conduct a comprehensive study on the matter.
"This is a good step. It's better for people to know the statistics and that we are not all bad. It cannot be denied that there are some who spoiled our image but there are also those who hold degrees, are professionals and successful," he said.
He called for justice in keeping with human rights principles and hoped that the policy to be drawn up would open the people's mind and correct the derogatory views of the community towards people like him.
"We are also human. I am surprised when prospective employers at job interviews I attended looked oddly at me. This is discrimination. We are not as open-minded as compared with other countries ... it's unfair if we look at a person without assessing their capabilities," he said.
From a religious point of view, a committee member of a local religious organisation who preferred anonymity agreed with the minister that the problem is complex.
The mother of two said while this group of people should exert their basic human rights, most mainstream religions opined that they should maintain their gender given from birth.
"From a religious point of view, I think I would say yes and no (the justification of the nature of this group). Yes, because they are physically God-created, there is no such thing as man being a woman or woman being a man.
"I always believe the tendency to deviate to transsexuality or transvestism is caused by the environment factor, the way they were brought up. I don't believe it is part of genetics," she said.
She however said the public should show compassion to such people as they were like everyone else; trying to find a place in society and, perhaps, gaining attention and acknowledgement by behaving the way they do.

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