by Nisha Ayub
My name is Nisha Ayub. I am a human rights defender working on human rights. Today, I will be providing analysis and evidence to support the cases and testimonies presented by trans women witnesses in this tribunal. Before I analyse the cases, allow me to provide an overview of trans persons and gender identities.
Transgender or trans women are commonly known in Malaysia as mak nyah; or thirunangai in the Indian community. Trans and gender-diverse people have always existed throughout humanity. Historically, gender-diverse people have existed in many cultures and communities as evidenced by the well-documentation of the hijra, fa’afafine, etc. in Malaya and Borneo, sida-sida, manang bali, and many more gender-diverse identities.
In the last few decades, we have seen robust legal reforms around the world that affirm, recognise, and protect trans and gender-diverse people, following the increased evidence and knowledge of gender identity and expression. More recently, the American Psychological Association (APA) replaced gender identity disorder with gender dysphoria and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the World Health Organization (WHO) removed gender incongruence as a mental health issue. These bodies maintain gender dysphoria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and Gender Incongruence of Adolescence and Adulthood in the ICD+11 — with thorough explanation — stating that it is only maintained, with revisions, to ensure access to healthcare services for trans and gender-diverse people.
Gender diversity is not an abnormality or anomaly — it is a fact of life. We now know that sex and gender are two separate categories that we all have. As human beings, we have sex characteristics and a gender identity. Again, I emphasise, sex characteristics or sex is different from gender identity.
Sex refers to a combination of chromosomes, reproductive organs, and gonads that make up our external selves. It is important to note that sex is not binary, meaning made up of only two identities, female and male. There are also intersex people (khunsa), who fall outside of what is typically known as ‘male’ and ‘female’ bodies. Intersex people are different from trans people.
Gender identity on the other hand, refers to who we are and how we see ourselves. Our gender identity is manifested through our being, gender expressions, for instance. Some trans and gender-diverse people face gender dysphoria, a form of stress and anxiety as a result of being forced into binary identities or body development that is not aligned with a person’s gender identity, among others.
Sex and gender identity are often conflated, resulting in misinformation, binary gender constructs, roles and stereotypes, and adverse harms on all persons, in particular trans, intersex and gender-diverse persons.
Our sex and gender identity are not only conflated but often reduced to our genitals. Our genitals are used to determine and define who we are. From our name, our access to education, whether we have equal pay to what we can wear is reduced to and determined by our genitals — when our genitals are just our genitals. They do not encapsulate who we are as people.
The lack of comprehensive sex education, as well as gender studies in schools further deepens the problem. As noted by the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), criminalisation, pathologisation, demonisation and other institutional drivers for stigma are some of the main barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex, and queer/questioning (LGBTIQ) persons in Malaysia.
Lastly, it is important to note that gender is an umbrella term, which includes, among others, gender identity, gender expression, and gender roles. Gender is a multidisciplinary field that studies and analyses the construct of gender from various aspects — social, cultural, science, and language.
In my statement, I will be using a few terms. ‘Cisgender’ is a term for a person who is fine with the identity assigned at birth. Meaning, a person who was assigned the identity ‘girl’ at birth and feels fine with the assigned identity, is known as a ‘cisgender person’ or ‘girl’ or ‘woman’. Cisgender combines the Latin prefix ‘cis-’ meaning ‘on this side’ with the word ‘gender’. Meanwhile, transgender, where the prefix ‘trans-’ signals something is ‘across’ or ‘on the other side’.
‘Gender-diverse’, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for people who fall outside of the binary gender categories, be it gender identity or gender expression. This includes non-binary, agender, and others. Gender-diverse also includes cisgender people who are gender non-conforming, or express or present themselves outside of the gender stereotypes of how a man or woman are expected to present or express themselves.
1.2 How Gender is Understood and Protected under International Law
In the last few years, we have seen many court cases seeking protection and recognition of trans and gender-diverse people.
Gender-based discrimination is prohibited under international law through various human rights treaties, including:
(a) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — articles 2, 3 and 26;
(b) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
(c) Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC);
(d) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD);
(e) International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (IMWC);
(f) United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief;
(g) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
(h) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Article 2 of CEDAW requires States parties to modify or abolish existing laws and policies that constitute discrimination against women.
Gender-based violence — “physical, sexual and psychological harm (including intimidation, suffering, coercion, and/or deprivation of liberty within the family, or within the general community)” directed against heterosexual women or LGBT+ persons is recognised as a prohibited form of discrimination in international law.
In human rights treaties, it is widely accepted that discrimination based on ‘sex’ subsumes discrimination based on gender, including gender identity and gender expression as well as sexual orientation.
International law has further evolved beyond the narrowly focused, physiologically-based interpretations and applications of the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of ‘sex’. The Human Rights Committee, the CEDAW Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Committee Against Torture (CAT), numerous Special Procedures mandates, and regional human rights systems all recognise that sex-based discrimination amounts to gender-based discrimination, which is understood in international law as discrimination arising from socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for the different sexes. The Human Rights Committee recognises that ‘sex’ in articles 2(2) and 26 of the ICCPR includes sexual orientation and that article 26 of the ICCPR encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity, including trans status. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has also made it clear that sexual orientation and gender identity-based discrimination is covered by articles 2(2) and 3 of the Convention. The CEDAW Committee recognises that discrimination against women is “inextricably linked to other factors that [affect] their lives”, including having a trans history. A total of 24 United Nations (UN) special procedures mandate-holders have jointly affirmed “the wide recognition of gender as a social construct that permeates the context in which human rights abuses take place”.
1.3 CEDAW, Gender, and Intersectionality
CEDAW prohibits discrimination against women based on the grounds of sex and gender. CEDAW acknowledges sex and gender as two separate things yet are interconnected aspects of our lives. Specific references to sexual orientation and gender identity are made in several General Recommendations. General Recommendations are issued by the CEDAW Committee to clarify the scope of an article in the CEDAW Convention; bringing attention to critical issues that States parties should devote more attention to, among others.
Some of the General Recommendations include:
(a) General Recommendation No. 27 on older women and protection of their human rights. Under specific areas of concerns, General Recommendation No. 27 specifies:
13. The discrimination experienced by older women is often multidimensional, with the age factor compounding other forms of discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin, disability, poverty levels, sexual orientation and gender identity, migrant status, marital and family status, literacy and other grounds. Older women who are members of minority, ethnic or indigenous groups, internally displaced or stateless often experience a disproportionate degree of discrimination.
(b) General Recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the CEDAW Convention introduces the concept of intersectionality.
18. Intersectionality is a basic concept for understanding the scope of the general obligations of States parties contained in article 2. The discrimination of women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors that affect women, such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, status, age, class, caste, and sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination on the basis of sex or gender may affect women belonging to such groups to a different degree or in different ways to men. States parties must legally recognize and prohibit such intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded negative impact on the women concerned. They also need to adopt and pursue policies and programmes designed to eliminate such occurrences, including, where appropriate, temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation No. 25. (emphasis added in bold)
(c) General Recommendation No. 32 on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality, and statelessness of women (paras 6, 16, and 38). The Committee reiterates that articles 1, 2(f), and 5(a) of the CEDAW Convention be read together with its General Recommendations. In this case, para 38 of General Recommendation No. 32 calls for States parties to:
… classify gender-related claims under the ground of membership of a particular social group, where necessary; and consider adding sex and/or gender, as well as the reason of being lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and other status to the list of grounds for refugee status in their national asylum legislation.
(d) General Recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice (paras 8 and 49). The Committee reaffirms that grounds for intersecting and compounded discrimination, which may include, among others, ethnicity/race, national origin, marital and/or maternal status, age, and identity as a lesbian, bisexual or transgender woman or intersex person make it more difficult for women from those groups to gain access to justice. The Committee recommends States parties to:
(l) Abolish discriminatory criminalization and review and monitor all criminal procedures to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly discriminate against women; decriminalize forms of behaviour that are not criminalized or punished as harshly if they are performed by men; decriminalize forms of behaviour that can be performed only by women, such as abortion; and act with due diligence to prevent and provide redress for crimes that disproportionately or solely affect women, whether perpetrated by State or non-State actors.
(e) General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation No. 19. The Committee reaffirms:
12. In general recommendation No. 28 and general recommendation No. 33. the Committee confirmed that discrimination against women was inextricably linked to other factors that affected their lives. The Committee, in its jurisprudence, has highlighted the fact that such factors include women’s ethnicity/race, indigenous or minority status, colour, socioeconomic status and/or caste, language, religion or belief, political opinion, national origin, marital status, maternity, parental status, age, urban or rural location, health status, disability, property ownership, being lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, illiteracy, seeking asylum, being a refugee, internally displaced or stateless, widowhood, migration status, heading households, living with HIV/AIDS, being deprived of liberty, and being in prostitution, as well as trafficking in women, situations of armed conflict, geographical remoteness and the stigmatization of women who fight for their rights, including human rights defenders.
Accordingly, because women experience varying and intersecting forms of discrimination, which have an aggravating negative impact, the Committee acknowledges that gender-based violence may affect some women to different degrees, or in different ways, meaning that appropriate legal and policy responses are needed.
The Committee also recommends that States parties “[r]epeal, including in customary, religious and indigenous laws, all legal provisions that are discriminatory against women and thereby enshrine, encourage, facilitate, justify or tolerate any form of gender-based violence” (para 29).
This includes laws that criminalise women for being lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
(f) General Recommendation No. 36 (2017) on the right of girls and women to education.
(g) General Recommendation No. 37 (2018) on the gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change.
1.4 Yogyakarta Principles
In 2006, a group of human rights experts developed and published “a set of international legal principles on the application of international law to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, (with the aim to) bring greater clarity and coherence to States’ human rights obligations”, namely the Yogyakarta Principles.
The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of human rights standards and their application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Principles affirm the primary obligation of States to implement human rights. Each Principle is accompanied by detailed recommendations to States. The experts also emphasise, though, that all actors have responsibilities to promote and protect human rights. Additional recommendations are addressed to other actors, including the UN human rights system, national human rights institutions, the media, non-governmental organisations, and funders.
2. Tharani’s Testimony
Tharani’s testimony reveals multiple forms of discrimination, including:
(a) Discrimination at the workplace; and
(b) Discrimination against women human rights defenders. From Tharani’s testimony, it is clear that being an openly transgender woman defending the rights of workers made her vulnerable to discrimination because of her gender identity. Her gender identity and expression as well as her activism became the cause of her harassment, discrimination, and violence.
Her experiences of discrimination are compounded by the non-recognition of transgender and gender-diverse persons as well as the criminalisation of LGBTQ persons in Malaysia, which render trans women, like Tharani, unprotected under the law and vulnerable to discrimination with impunity. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)’s report notes the correlation between non-recognition of trans people and employment discrimination, and its cascading impact on livelihood of trans people.
Based on its findings, SUHAKAM recommends the introduction of a comprehensive legislation and/or policy on equality and non-discrimination, which expressly includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) as grounds of discrimination. Similarly, SUHAKAM also recommends that the private sector adopt inclusive policies on discrimination and bullying at the workplace in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which also expressly states SOGIESC as grounds of discrimination.
2.1 Workplace / Employment
Tharani’s experiences of discrimination at the workplace is not an isolated experience and is consistent with the many experiences of discrimination faced by trans people that have been documented in various reports. Trans and gender-diverse people face employment discrimination at various levels:
(a) First: during the hiring or interview process
The report entitled “Denied Work: An audit of employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Southeast Asia” shows the severity of pre-employment discrimination faced by trans people. The report notes that “data showed that despite equivalent qualifications and experience, trans applicants were less likely than cis applicants to receive a positive response, which includes being invited to contact the employer, being asked for more information, or being invited to attend an interview, across the four job sectors”. The report shows cisgender applicants were 50% more likely than transgender applicants to receive a positive response (64% more likely for cis women and 37.5% for cis men), and 66.1% more likely to be invited to an interview (72.4% for cis women and 60.6% for cis men) in Malaysia. The report notes that “the discrimination experienced by trans women was particularly severe” due to the disproportionate rejection that trans women face compared to cisgender women.
The earlier-mentioned 2019 SUHAKAM study also highlights high levels of discrimination during the job interview process where:
(i) 58 respondents (58%) shared that they were denied employment, or have had their applications rejected; and
(ii) 57 respondents said that the job interviewers questioned or made comments regarding their gender identity. This included the job interviewers asking the respondents to cut their hair, and commenting on their attire and their gender expression, suggesting that they were incapable of taking up the job.
“Freedom of Expression and Transgender Women in Malaysia” — a report by Justice for Sisters in 2021 — shows similar trends. It notes that almost all 60 trans women respondents from Malaysia experienced pre-employment discrimination, which included:
(i) Denial of job opportunities because of their gender identity and gender expression;
(ii) Being questioned about their capabilities to carry out the job based on preconceived ideas of trans women and gender-binary stereotypes;
(iii) Imposition of a gendered dress code and gender expression based on sex and gender binaries, including hair length and styles; and
(iv) Restricted access to gendered spaces and only allowed to use gendered spaces at the workplace based on the gender marker on their identification card.
The report also notes that even when the respondents ‘passed’, they still faced discrimination because of the gender marker in their identification cards. Some trans women respondents who changed their appearance to appear more masculine just so that they get a job also faced discrimination and rejection for being gender non-conforming.
Employers were found tending to use religion as a reason not to hire trans women. For example, the report included the experience of a trans woman who was denied a job at a hair salon because “the salon is a Muslimah salon”, implying that trans women are not allowed to be in spaces with cisgender women. Again, we see the misconception of trans women, resulting in discrimination against trans women based on gender identity and religion.
(b) Second: discrimination at the workplace
While many companies hire trans people and are friendly towards trans employees, their existing policies may not provide adequate protection for trans and gender-diverse people due to various reasons such as a lack of understanding of trans and gender-diverse identities and their needs. Given this, employers may not realise or be aware of the discriminatory acts against trans and gender-diverse people, and workplace policies that are viewed from the lens of cis- and/or heteronormativity.
The State’s non-recognition and criminalisation of trans and gender-diverse persons result in companies ‘not wanting to get into trouble’ for recognising trans people at the workplace or for feeling that they are only following/respecting the Government policies and positions on LGBT people.
Transgender women who are hired face many challenges, and they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves while exposing themselves to increased scrutiny, challenges, and discrimination.
Research also shows that given the long-standing discrimination that trans people face, not all trans women are confident in expressing themselves at the workplace even if the workplace environment appears to be friendly.
Trans women working in government sectors face more restrictions in expressing themselves compared to respondents working in non-government sectors. At work, they present themselves through masculine or androgynous gender expressions and are forced to conceal their identities to avoid discrimination.
Some of the forms of discrimination at the workplace experienced by trans women include the following:
(i) Misgendering at the workplace;
(ii) Restricted access to gendered facilitates, including toilets and lockers;
(iii) Assigned uniforms based on sex assigned at birth;
(iv) Instructed or pressured to change their gender expression, for example, suggesting they get a haircut;
(v) Name-calling and taunting, including being asked when they will change. Some also noted that the discrimination at the workplace intersected with ethnicity; and
(vi) Misogynistic jokes.
Many are also subjected to prejudicial complaints that have led to their termination.
The 2019 SUHAKAM report notes that:
(i) 53 of 100 respondents said that they were asked intrusive questions by their colleagues;
(ii) 51 of 100 respondents said that they were subjected to the spread of gossip and rumours;
(iii) 48 of 100 respondents were subjected to name-calling;
(iv) 28 of 100 respondents were subjected to hostile interaction; and
(v) 25 of 100 respondents experience sexual harassment by customers.
The report shows that discrimination at the workplace takes a significant toll on the respondents. At least 61 respondents said that they felt stress, anxiety, and isolation as a result of the discrimination. There were 45 respondents who said that they felt demotivated and 43 said that they were depressed. A total of 15 respondents had suicidal thoughts while eight respondents shared that they had subjected themselves to self-harm and eight had attempted suicide. Some of these impacts were experienced by Tharani herself.
A total of 37 respondents said that they had to resign and seek new employment opportunities.
Pervasive job discrimination has resulted in limiting the respondents’ employment options and missed opportunities for self-development and growth. Two respondents in the SUHAKAM study shared that they were unable to apply for jobs in their areas of interest, and had to resort to working at any company that was willing to hire them. Some engaged in sex work as a result of the lack of employment opportunities.
These experiences expose the gaps in the protection of workers’ rights with regard to pre-employment discrimination and discrimination at the workplace — both in the Government and private sectors. Without any protection and access to recourse, the respondents were left with limited options for employment and became vulnerable to falling into poverty.
We recommend the Government to:
(a) prohibit pre-employment and discrimination at the workplace under the Employment Act;
(b) enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination act that prohibits multiple forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, and recognises the intersectional nature of discrimination;
(c) enact a Gender Equality Act that recognises gender as a multidisciplinary concept, which recognises diverse gender identities and the harmful impact of binary social construct of gender on all persons, including cisgender persons; and
(d) conduct training for public officials on gender, diversity, and human rights.
The publication “Standards of Conduct for Business: tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people” by the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, shaped by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other inputs from diverse sectors, outlines the following five standards for businesses:
(a) Respect human rights of LGBTI workers, customers, and community members;
(b) Eliminate discrimination against LGBTI employees in the workplace;
(c) Support LGBTI staff at work;
(d) Not discriminate against LGBTI customers, suppliers, and distributors, and insist that business partners do the same; and
(e) Stand up for human rights of LGBTI people in the communities where they do business.
Guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the private sector should take measures to protect, respect, remedy, and promote the human rights of trans and gender-diverse persons. We also recommend the Government to:
(a) introduce comprehensive non-discrimination and inclusion policies to ensure trans and gender-diverse workers are protected against discrimination and violence;
(b) introduce gender, inclusion and diversity, and human rights training programmes at the workplace to dismantle prejudice among co-workers and create a welcoming environment; and
(c) adopt trans- and gender-diverse-affirming workplace guidelines. Guidelines developed by civil society, for example, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)’s “Guidelines for Employers and Employees” and Transgender Europe (TGEU)’s “Trans-Inclusive Workplaces — Guidelines for Employers and Businesses” provide tools and resources for employers to implement the inclusion of trans and gender-diverse persons in the workplace.
2.2 Human Rights Defenders
Tharani’s testimony shows the increased vulnerability of trans women human rights defenders, including those who are not explicitly defending the human rights of LGBTIQ persons. Visible trans women human rights defenders especially are vulnerable to gender-based hateful speech, crimes, and discrimination online and offline.
The UN’s “Gender Dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” notes that women human rights defenders who challenge business-related human rights violations are vulnerable to multiple forms of risks, discrimination, and violence, including but not limited to the workplace. The report notes that the vulnerability faced by women human rights defenders“ reflect a failure to integrate a gender perspective in laws, regulations, policies, plans, practices, processes and decisions. The current general business practice of gender-neutral human rights due diligence is a case in point”. In the context of trans and gender-diverse people, the policies are not only gender-neutral but also cisnormative and heteronormative. The report recommends “a gendered approach to decision-making by States and businesses should also consider the intersectional nature of discrimination".
The LGBTIQ monitoring report shows that LGBTIQ human rights defenders and those who defend the rights of LGBTIQ persons are vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination and violence by State and non-State actors, including:
(b) Loss of employment for LGBTIQ persons, human rights defenders, or allies;
(c) Police investigation;
(d) Increased vulnerability of being reported to the police or other State agencies; and
(e) Property damage.
The report notes that the LGBTIQ human rights defenders face self-isolation and increased mental health burden as a result of the backlash that they face.
In Malaysia’s 2018 CEDAW review, the Committee expressed its concern over the arbitrary arrests, harassment, and intimidation by State authorities as well as religious institutions, and recommended the State to:
50. … ensure that women human rights defenders can freely undertake their important work without fear or threat of arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation, including the issuance of fatwas by religious institutions, by fully guaranteeing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. It also recommends that the State party provide capacity-building on women’s rights and gender equality to law enforcement officials, members of the judiciary and members of religious institutions.
In addition to the Concluding Observations by the CEDAW Committee, we recommend that the Government address human rights violations that have surfaced in relation to the hospital cleaning workers in line with the State’s duty to protect against human rights violations within its jurisdiction and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, where principle 26 notes that States should take appropriate steps to ensure the effectiveness of domestic judicial mechanisms when addressing business-related human rights abuses, including considering ways to reduce legal, practical, and other relevant barriers that could lead to a denial of access to remedy. This, among others, includes non-obstruction to legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders.
Meanwhile, principle 27 notes that States should provide effective and appropriate non-judicial grievance mechanisms, alongside judicial mechanisms, as part of a comprehensive State-based system for the remedy of business-related human rights abuse. The Guiding Principles notes that National Human Rights Institutions play an important role in addressing violations and the State should “consider ways to address any imbalance between the parties to business-related human rights claims and any additional barriers to access faced by individuals from groups or populations at heightened risk of vulnerability or marginalization".
Apart from the State’s duty to address business-related human rights impacts and claims, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights outlines the roles of businesses in safeguarding human rights. Principle 23 of the Guiding Principles states that all businesses should:
(a) comply with all applicable laws and respect internationally recognised human rights, wherever they operate;
(b) seek ways to honour the principles of internationally recognised human rights when faced with conflicting requirements; and
(c) treat the risk of causing or contributing to gross human rights abuses as a legal compliance issue wherever they operate.
Principle 13 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights outlines the responsibility of business enterprises in respecting human rights, which includes:
(a) To avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts; and
(b) To seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that involve them, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.
In Tharani’s case, while the direct perpetrator could be an employee, her company as the employer has the duty to avoid contributing to, and to mitigate adverse human rights impacts. Principle 15 of the Guiding Principles recommends business enterprises to put in place appropriate policies and processes to meet their responsibilities to respect human rights. We recommend the private sector to adopt an anti-discrimination workplace policy in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which also expressly states SOGIESC as grounds of discrimination.
Lastly, to be in line with principle 17 of the Guiding Principles, which recommends companies to carry out human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for actual and potential human rights impacts and how they will address adverse human rights impacts, among others.
3. Paddy’s Testimony
The testimony from Paddy (pseudonym) brings to the forefront several intersecting issues. These include:
(a) Criminalisation and its wide-ranging impact on trans people. Her sharing also shows the hefty cost of seeking access to justice. In Paddy’s situation, her desire to be free from criminalisation, arbitrary arrest, and detention came at the cost of her own mental health and well-being; and
(b) Impact of COVID-19 on trans people. In this section, Paddy shared the struggles during COVID-19. We emphasise that trans and gender-diverse people and their experiences are not included in many research and data collection processes. As a result, trans and gender-diverse people are not only left behind, but they also remain invisible.
Paddy’s testimony highlights issues of family acceptance and isolation alongside criminalisation and the increasing context of anti-trans and LGBT sentiments.
In Malaysia, Muslim trans women are penalised for their gender identity and gender expression under Syariah criminal enactments and acts in all 13 states, and the Federal Territories. There are two versions of the law:
(a) In 10 states: any male person who, in any public place, wears a woman’s attire and poses as a woman for immoral purposes shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding ___ ringgit [the amount of the fine varies by state] or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ___ years [the term of imprisonment varies by state] or to both; and
(b) In four states: any male person who, in any public place, wears a woman’s attire and poses as a woman shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding ___ ringgit [the amount of the fine varies by state] or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ___ years [the term of imprisonment varies by state] or to both.
In summary, the penalties vary between six months to one year of imprisonment and fines between RM1,000 to RM5,000.
In 2019, section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 1992, which penalises “male persons who wear women’s attire or pose as a woman” was amended to include “for immoral purposes”. The punishment was also increased from a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both, to a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both. Additionally, section 66A was introduced to criminalise female persons who wear men’s attire or pose as a man.
Four states in Malaysia criminalise female persons posing as a man.
According to the Pelan Strategik JAKIM 2015–2019 and the Manual Islam & Mak Nyah, there were 746 cases of arrest under the ‘posing as a woman’ state Syariah laws between 2008 and 2012 in Malaysia. In 2010, 218 cases of arrest were reported throughout Malaysia — the highest recorded cases between 2008 and 2012. That same year Paddy and her friends filed a constitutional challenge against section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 1992 at the Negeri Sembilan High Court.
3.2 Application of the Law
Based on published research, the use of the laws remains arbitrary in practice. “I’m Scared to Be a Woman”, a publication by Human Rights Watch shows the various contexts in which the laws are used, the multiple forms of violence and degrading treatment that trans women face due to the use of these laws, and the criminalisation of trans women based on their gender identity and expression.
The report shows that trans women have been arrested and harassed under Syariah laws:
(a) when they are in public places, for example disco or clubs, buying food, or in their car travelling to places. In one case, the report notes that non-Muslim trans women were also arrested in raids by the state Islamic departments. Based on our experience documenting cases of arrest, depending on the law enforcement agencies that are involved in these arrests, we find that non-Muslim trans women are often let go, remanded or charged under other laws;
(b) during trans-women-related events, including charity events, beauty pageants, and private functions in hotels;
(c) when trans women are in areas that are known for sex work; and
(d) for alleged sex work.
In these cases of arbitrary arrest, trans women face multiple forms of violence; and degrading, humiliating, and inhumane treatment. Numerous research materials and documentation have reported the following:
(a) High levels of sexual harassment and violence during arrest and detention. The sexual harassment links to the non-recognition of trans women as who we are and our gender identity. As a result, public officials feel that it is justified to grab our breasts or make us remove our tops in public because trans women are perceived as male persons;
(b) Multiple forms of violence and extortion during arrest and detention. Some violence is a result of being chased by state religious department officers, some of whom are in civilian clothes;
(c) Humiliating and degrading treatment during arrest and detention. Some of the arrests take place in public places, causing unwanted public attention; and
(d) Involvement of the media in arrests and raids not only causes humiliation, but also termination of employment.
It is also important to note that while these laws directly target Muslim trans women, the impact of these laws are wide-reaching. The laws and criminalisation of trans women result in, among others, the following:
(a) They create negative perceptions and stereotypes about trans and gender-diverse people, which enable discrimination and violence, including within the family. Many anecdotal evidence show that fear of discrimination and violence of LGBTQ people results in family members forcing LGBTQ people to suppress their identities. Research shows negative responses from parents to LGBT youths can be attributed to anxious concerns over the child’s well-being and future to abuse.
Further, in a context where state Syariah laws are perceived as ‘God’s laws’, the criminalisation under the state Syariah laws reinforce the notion that LGBTQ people are sinners both among LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ persons. In tandem with that, challenging a discriminatory Syariah law is seen as a challenge to Islam itself, resulting in severe impact and isolation of those who seek redress and justice.
(b) They allow violence and discrimination against all trans and gender-diverse persons by various actors with impunity. There are many documented cases of extortion involving state officials and trans women. In some, we have also seen the establishment of vigilante groups to address social ills. Skuad Badar in Sungai Petani, Kedah reportedly arrested and tarbiah (counselled) trans women. Justice for Sisters reported that the group had harassed, detained, and shaved heads of trans women in Kedah. The squad was reported to have collaborated with the state Islamic agency to carry out enforcement activities.
(c) They increase the lack of trust in Government agencies, especially the police. This is especially apparent in the limited access to redress and justice that trans women experience.
Lastly, the criminalisation of trans and LGBT people allows other forms of state-sanctioned acts against LGBTIQ persons such as state-funded rehabilitation programmes in Malaysia. Rehabilitation or conversion practices are widely discredited due to its long-term harmful impacts.
3.3 Constitutional Challenge to the Law
In 2014, in an appeal of a constitutional review of section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 1994, the Court of Appeal found section 66 to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates:
(a) Article 5 on the right of trans women to live with dignity. The Court of Appeal cited Lembaga Tatatertib Perkhidmatan Awam Hospital Besar Pulau Pinang & Anor v Utra Badi K Perumah  3 CLJ 224:
5. the word ‘life’ in Art. 5(1) includes the right to live with dignity. In his words, (at p. 239) —
… it is the fundamental right of every person within the shores of Malaysia to live with common human dignity.
The Court stated that, “as long as section 66 is in force the appellants will continue to live in uncertainty, misery and indignity. They now come before this Court in the hope that they may be able to live with dignity and be treated as equal citizens of this nation."
The Court noted that the word “life” in article 5(1) “means more than mere animal existence: it also includes rights such as rights as livelihood and the quality of life (see Tan Tek Seng v Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Pendidikan & Anor.  2 CLJ 771 and Lee Kwan Woh v. PP  5 CLJ 631 at p. 643 para )". As such, the Court also noted that the state law had an “inevitable effect of rendering their right to livelihood/work illusory, for they will never be able to leave their homes, cross-dressed, to go to their respective places of work without being exposed to being arrested and punished under section 66".
(b) Articles 8(1) and (2) that safeguard equality before the law and prohibit gender-based discrimination.
(c) Article 9 on freedom of movement. The Court of Appeal stated that “even if we were to regard section 66 as a restriction and not as a denial of the right to move freely within the country, still, such restriction, according to judicial authorities (see Sivarasa Rasiah; Dr. Mohd Nasir Hashim and Muhammad Hilman), must be subject to the test of reasonableness. However, we hold that section 66 is an unreasonable restriction of the appellants’ right to freedom of movement — and hence unconstitutional as being inconsistent with Art. 9(2) of the Federal Constitution".
(d) Article 10 on the right to freedom of expression. In the decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed that self-expression and gender expression are part of our freedom of expression.
A person’s dress, attire or articles of clothing are a form of expression, which in our view, is guaranteed under Art. 10(1)(a).
In the decision, the Court of Appeal also noted that “art. 10(2)(a) states that only Parliament may restrict freedom of expression in limited situations; and so long as such restrictions are reasonable. The state Legislative Assemblies in Malaysia (and this includes the state legislature of Negeri Sembilan) have no power to restrict freedom of speech and expression. Only Parliament has such power. This is confirmed by the Supreme Court in Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan & Anor. v Nordin Salleh & Anor  1 CLJ 72 (Rep) at 82".
“… Moreover, any restriction on freedom of expression must be reasonable (see Sivarasa Rasiah; Dr. Mohd Nasir Hashim and Muhammad Hilman). … Thus, also from the aspect of reasonableness, section 66 is unconstitutional".
Principle 19 of the Yogyakarta Principles on the right to freedom of opinion and expression states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes the expression of identity or personhood through speech, deportment, dress, bodily characteristics, choice of name, or any other means, as well as the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, including with regard to human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, through any medium and regardless of frontiers. (emphasis added in bold)
In 2015, the Federal Court set aside the decisions by the High Court and Court of Appeal on the grounds of technicality. Specifically, the Federal Court opined that the applicants had made a mistake in filling in their petition. However, in 2019, in the case of Alma Nudo Atenza vs PP & Another Appeal, the Federal Court opined that the filing procedure was indeed correct:
 The decision in Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur (supra) was followed in State Government Of Negeri Sembilan & Ors v. Muhammad Juzaili MohdKhamis & Ors  6 MLRA 117;  6 MLJ 736;  8 CLJ 975;  6 AMR 248, where the validity of a State Enactment was challenged on the ground that it offended the fundamental liberties in arts. 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the Federal Constitution. Similarly, the Federal Court held that the challenge could only be made via the specific procedure provided for under arts. 4(3) and (4) of the FC.
 These two cases suggest that a challenge to the constitutionality or validity of a law on any ground comes within the ambit of arts. 4(3) and (4). With respect, we are of the view that the wide interpretation adopted is contrary to the clear wordings of the aforesaid Articles and is not supported by any consistent line of authorities. (See: Ah Thian (supra), Gerald Fernandez v. Attorney-General Malaysia  1 MLRA 126;  1 MLJ 262, Yeoh Tat Thong v. Government of Malaysia & Anor  1 MLRA 480, Syarikat Banita Sdn Bhd v. Government Of State Of Sabah  1 MLRA 81;  2 MLJ 217, Rethana M Rajasigamoney v. The Government Of Malaysia  1 MLRA 233;  2 MLJ 52, East Union (Malaya) Sdn Bhd v. Government Of State Of Johore & Government Of Malaysia  1 MLRA 270;  1 MLJ 151). We are therefore not inclined to follow these two cases. In our view, they were decided per incuriam.
The doctrine of per incuriam, which translates as ‘through lack of care’ has a significant meaning. A per incuriam judgment refers to a judgment that was made without reference to a statutory provision or precedent. A judgment that has been decided per incuriam renders the judgment void, and the judgment does not have to be followed as a precedent by a lower court.
Based on the Alma case, the applicants filed another petition to review the Federal Court’s decision in 2020, on the grounds that the decision was not inconsistent with article 121(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution and sections 96 and 74(1) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 causing injustice. However, their application was unsuccessful.
3.4 Post Constitutional Case
As Paddy shared, we also observed a significant reduction in cases of arrest of trans women under the ‘male person posing as a woman’ provision in state Syariah laws following the Court of Appeal’s decision. However, it is also important to note that gender-disaggregated data of arrest and detention are unavailable.
With that said, the laws and criminalisation of trans women still subject them to multiple forms of discrimination, violence, and surveillance.
The LGBT monitoring report includes cases of arrest, harassment, and intimidation that occurred between 2018 and 2020. In the state of Perak, the trans women interviewees observed that the Perak state Islamic Department patrols areas where trans women usually gather. In December 2019, a trans woman was arrested by the state Islamic Department in Taiping. However, she was released without charges on the same night of her arrest. The reasons for the arrest were unclear but attributed to being out at night in a sex work hotspot. This underscores the harm of the law in its increasing arbitrariness with the harassment and surveillance of LGBTQ persons with impunity.
The report also posits that trans women are still vulnerable to being targeted by state Islamic Departments under various state Syariah laws. Furthermore, LGBT human rights groups observe a shift in trends in the use of laws. This includes the following:
(a) Liwat and attempt to commit liwat;
(b) Encouraging vice (menggalakkan maksiat);
(c) Insult to Islam; and
(d) A group of trans women was arrested for not performing Friday prayers under section 16 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001 in Kuala Terengganu in April 2019. The trans women were arrested in their private homes. As a result, transgender people are afraid to go out and work due to fear of arrest. Every Friday during prayer time, they would not stay at home but instead hide in other places.
The impact is, the trans women community, and myself included, yes, it’s compulsory for men, but it’s their own prerogative. In my opinion. But it’s the way the arrest is carried out. They arrest us at home. It’s not like we are hanging out in public spaces. There are so many men who hang out in the parks, by the beach during prayer time, but why don’t they arrest them. So in terms of impact, we are afraid. Afraid to go out. Every Friday, when it’s 12 noon, we will not be home. We run to some other places. Perhaps people may say just go do the Friday prayers, but when people see ‘pondan’ at the Friday prayer, what will people say to us?
Paddy also told of the humiliating and degrading treatment that she faced in court when a court official loudly called her by her name in her legal document (‘dead name’), misgendering and outing her in a public place. Her experience in the court correlates with the non-recognition and misinformation regarding trans and gender-diverse people in Malaysia.
The SUHAKAM study shows that at least 57 respondents experienced challenges when dealing with Government actors and agencies because of their gender identity and gender expression. Meanwhile, 65 respondents shared that they faced challenges in accessing gendered spaces.
3.5 International Standards and State Obligations in Relation to Criminalisation
States have an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of all persons within their jurisdiction, which includes LGBTIQ and gender-diverse persons. These State obligations are established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties, and customary international law. The fundamental principles of universality, equality, and non-discrimination have been interpreted to include discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
The Born Free and Equal booklet outlines five core obligations of the States to protect, respect, and fulfil the human rights of LGBTIQ persons based on international human rights norms and standards, namely:
(a) Protect individuals from violence;
(b) Prevent torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment;
(c) Repeal discriminatory laws;
(d) Prohibit and address discrimination; and
(e) Respect freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
Principle 33 of the Yogyakarta Principles safeguards the right to freedom from criminalisation and sanctions:
Everyone has the right to be free from criminalisation and any form of sanction arising directly or indirectly from that person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
General Recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice (para 51) recommends States parties to:
(l) Abolish discriminatory criminalization, and review and monitor all criminal procedures to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly discriminate against women; decriminalize forms of behaviour that are not criminalized or punished as harshly if they are performed by men; decriminalize behaviours that can only be performed by women such as abortion; and/or act with due diligence to prevent and provide redress for crimes that disproportionately or solely affect women, whether such acts were perpetrated by State or non-State actors;
In its 2019 Concluding Observations, the CEDAW Committee recommended that Malaysia:
(a) amend laws that discriminate against LBTI women;
(b) apply a policy that protects LBTI women from discrimination and violence; and
(c) discontinue measures that aim to “correct” or “rehabilitate” LBTI women.
During the Universal Periodic Review, other States have consistently recommended Malaysia to review and repeal laws that discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity as well as consensual sexual activities, to protect LGBTIQ against discrimination. All recommendations have been noted.
We call on the Government to:
(a) review and repeal all discriminatory laws based on gender identity and gender expression in line with human rights norms and standards;
(b) end all prosecution and harassment against LGBTQ persons based on their gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation;
(c) carry out gender, diversity, and human rights training for public officials; and
(d) enact a Gender Recognition Act similar to the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act, 2015 in Malta, which recognises trans and gender-diverse persons based on the person’s self-determined gender identity. This means that no medical intervention is needed for recognition of gender. The act outlines the registration process, and data protection, among others.
3.6 COVID-19 Pandemic
Paddy in her testimony shared the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on her and her community.
During the pandemic, many trans and gender-diverse people, especially those in the B40 economic category, who are elderly, refugees, and stateless, became even more vulnerable. Firstly, there is no large-scale data of the trans population in Malaysia and their needs, which can be attributed to the following:
(a) Lack of legal gender recognition in Malaysia that is seen as a barrier and impediment by others. As a result, we see many missed opportunities, including by the private sector to affirm trans and gender-diverse persons identities and collect necessary data with consent;
(b) Lack of robust and intersectional data collection, disaggregation, and analysis. For example, the census in Malaysia only includes two gender options and the selection has to be based on the identity on the person’s identification card; and
(c) Criminalisation and rehabilitation of trans and LGBTQ persons in Malaysia increase the trust deficit and raises concerns about sharing personal information due to fears over the misuse of personal information. For example, HIV data collection is often used to shame and justify the criminalisation of LGBT people, instead of developing evidence and rights-based strategies to address emerging issues.
However, research shows that many trans women live in poverty or are vulnerable of falling into poverty as a result of the job discrimination that they face. Many also lack social support because they are working in informal job sectors also as a result of the pervasive employment discrimination. There are some documented cases of termination of employment of trans women during the pandemic. Given the limited choice of employment and pervasive employment discrimination, trans and gender-diverse face additional stress.
The SUHAKAM study shows the average monthly income of the 100 trans and intersex respondents living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Nine (9%) out of the 100 respondents made below RM900 per month, which is considered as absolute poverty. A total of 10 respondents indicated that they have no income, of which three are trans persons with disabilities. The data shows that a significant portion of the respondents — more than 50% — fall within the B40 category.
Throughout the pandemic, many groups, together with LGBTIQ human rights groups provided COVID-19 relief assistance. During the first lockdown, they collectively raised RM83,569.08, which benefited over 1,100 requests for support from trans and LGBTIQ persons all over Malaysia. A small number of the recipients were cisgender women sex workers. In contrast, the Government noted that they assisted 525 mukhayam participants through its COVID-19 Musa’adah fund.
Most recipients were from the B40 economic category, including many were sex workers and stateless persons. The Trans Solidarity Fund reported that the beneficiaries of the fund earned between RM0 to RM2,000 per month. About 20% of recipients were either unemployed or had no stable income. Meanwhile, over 48% earned between RM200 to RM950. In terms of age groups, the trans women who benefited were between 19 and 82 years old.
LGBTIQ groups noted that many populations in rural and marginalised areas did not have access to adequate aid during the lockdowns. They also noted trans, gender-diverse, and LGBTIQ persons face additional barriers in accessing aid, which include:
(a) Fear of stigma and discrimination. This correlates with the increasing anti-LGBT sentiments; and
(b) Use of identification cards as a verification tool to access aid. The lack of legal gender recognition puts trans and gender-diverse people in a position where they have to out themselves and put themselves at risk of humiliating, degrading, and discriminatory treatment. On the other hand, refugee and stateless trans and gender-diverse people, who do not have these documents, also find it challenging to access aid.
As mentioned by the witness, trans and gender-diverse people, especially those living outside of the Klang Valley, also faced an increased digital divide.
The independent expert on SOGI released guidelines based on six fundamental actions identified as good practices in the design, implementation, and evaluation of measures of pandemic response and recovery. The six fundamental actions — the ‘ASPIRE’ guidelines — were developed through the lens of established international human rights frameworks.
ASPIRE stands for:
(a) Acknowledgement, which includes the critical first step of acknowledging that LGBT persons are everywhere (and that they are hard-hit by the pandemic). As mentioned above, LGBTIQ persons are diverse and have intersecting identities, which exacerbate the impact of COVID-19 on them.
(b) Support the work of LGBT civil society organisations and human rights defenders (and learn from their significant achievements).
(c) Protection of LGBT persons from violence and discrimination in the pandemic context (and prosecute perpetrators).
(d) Indirect discrimination avoidance.
(e) Representation of LGBT persons in the process of design, implementation, and evaluation of COVID-19-specific measures is key (and reflect their voices).
(f) Evidence-gathering concerning the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons must be gathered (and States must follow good practices).
We recommend the Government to:
(a) adopt recommendations from SUHAKAM’s Study on Discrimination against Transgender Persons based in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor;
(b) engage and work with LGBTIQ human rights groups to understand the vulnerability and address the needs of LGBTIQ persons so that no one is left behind;
(c) ensure that COVID-19 relief assistance reaches all vulnerable LGBTIQ persons without conditions; and
(d) end misinformation in relation to LGBTIQ persons and end State promotion of conversion practices.
3.7 Family Acceptance, Isolation, and Mental Health Burden
As mentioned by Paddy, trans, LGBTQ, and gender-diverse persons face increased isolation and enjoy very little space to express themselves because of the stigma that they face online and offline, in particular by their family members. Research shows that family acceptance can protect LGBT persons’ health and well-being. Family acceptance and support are associated with greater self-esteem, social support, general health status, less depression, less substance abuse, and less suicidal ideation and behaviours among LGBT youths. Family support among transgender youth specifically, has a protective effect against depression and is associated with the youth having a higher quality of life.
The Freedom of Expression and Gender Identity in Malaysia research shows family and family members are a significant part of the lives of trans women. They play a considerable role in determining the extent to which trans women are able to express themselves, particularly at home. Extended family and neighbours are also important as they influence family acceptance of trans women. The report finds a positive correlation between family acceptance and the ability of trans women to accept and express themselves.
The report finds that family members who initially were not accepting of their trans family member eventually came around. Some attribute the change in the family’s acceptance to their financial independence. The respondents’ experiences suggest that family members lack understanding of trans identities and gender, and to some degree, the respondents too. At least three respondents said that their family members perceived them as ‘lembut’ or ‘soft’, which suggests a limited understanding of trans persons and gender identity. The report posits that family members might be more accepting if they had access to accurate and affirming information on trans persons and gender.
The report found multiple forms of restrictions, aggression, and violence by family members, including extended family members. These include:
(a) Pressure to change gender identity and expression;
(b) Isolation, which includes expression of shame of being associated or seen in public spaces and rejection to proposal to spend time together with family members, especially if it involves being in public spaces; and
(c) Loss of status within the family.
The lack of family acceptance had a range of impacts on the respondents, including:
(a) Lack of ability to accept themselves;
(b) Loss of support system; and
(c) Suicidal attempts.
Some respondents noted that living independently gave them more freedom to express themselves and avoid conflicts with their family members. However, this is just a band-aid solution to ensure cordial relationships, and some level of support, are maintained both ways.
Over the pandemic, SEED Foundation observed an increase in trans women seeking shelter due to violence and stress as a result of being unable to express themselves.
We recommend the Government to:
(a) end misinformation in relation to LGBTIQ persons, and end State promotion of conversion practices; and
(b) provide accurate evidence and rights-based information regarding trans and LGBTIQ persons.
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 “Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics in International Human Rights Law”. OHCHR. Second edition. 2019. p. 7. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Born_Free_and_Equal_WEB.pdf.
 Principle 33 (YP+10). The Yogyakarta Principles. https://yogyakartaprinciples.org/principle-33-yp10/.
 NATLEX: Database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation (Malta). International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=101028&p_country=MLT&p_count=4.
 Dr Katz-Wise, Sabra L., et al. “LGBT Youth and Family Acceptance”. Pediatric clinics of North America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127283/; Ryan, Caitlin, et al. “Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults”. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21073595/.
 “Freedom of Expression and Transgender Women in Malaysia”. Justice for Sisters. July 2021.