Advocacy on Human Rights Among Youth in Malaysia – Addressing Transphobia and Violence against Transgender persons

Published August 27, 2021
Location Malaysia

Unimas Business School and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy is hosting an International ONLINE Webinar on Advocacy on Human Rights Among Youth in Malaysia: Addressing Transphobia and Violence Against Transgender Persons which will be held ONLINE on Sept 11 12, 2021. The first ever conference of this nature in Malaysia. The virtual conference focuses on innovative ideas and on societal challenges on transphobia and transgender violence.

This webinar welcomes activist, academicians and representatives of youth and transgender organisations to be the speakers. No full paper is requiredOnly a brief summary or abstract of your presentation. This is a golden opportunity to share your experiences and thoughts on these issues. Let your voice be heard for gender equality! Proceeds will be donated to SEED, the transgender organisation in Malaysia.

“Transgender persons experience violence as a result of their transgender identity. Various research has shown that transgender individuals endure high rates of violence from acquaintances and unknown people, and that they are frequently victimised throughout their lifetime.

In many cases, the increasing trend of murders and violence of transgender persons correlate with the increasing transphobia and discrimination against Trans people that remains unaddressed.

While many cases of hate crimes and murders are underreported and misreported (as victims are often miss-gendered), there is an upward trend of murders. “

Trans Murder Monitoring, which records cases of murder of transgender persons based on accounts from individuals and civil society organizations, reports 2609 unnatural deaths of Trans and gender-diverse persons across 71 countries between January 2008 and September 2018. In South Asia, between 2008 and 2016, 58 transgender persons were reported murdered in India37 in Pakistanin Nepal, and in Bangladesh (International Commission of Jurists, 2018). In Asia, the highest numbers of murders recorded since January 2008 were in India (48), the Philippines (35), Pakistan (22), and Thailand (14).

In the Pacific, a 2011 community-based study highlighted lack of safety for Trans women in Fiji. Trans women were targeted for abuse; 40 percent had previously been forced to have sex against their will. In Bangladesh, a 2006‒2007 survey found that 28 percent of hijra and trans women reported having been raped or beaten in the previous year. In Pattaya, Thailand, 89 percent of Trans women reported experiencing violence because of their gender identity and/or behavior (Health Policy Project, Asia Pacific Transgender Network, United Nations Development Programme, 2015).

     In Malaysian cases, the increasing trend of murders and violence also correlate with the increasing transphobia and discrimination against Trans people in Malaysia that remains unaddressed. In Malaysia, between 2017 and 2019 alone, at least 9 cases of murders of trans women have been reported. This makes up 47% of the total 19 cases that have been recorded between 2007 and October 2019 (13 years) (Justiceforsisters, 2019). While many cases of hate crimes and murders are underreported and misreported (as victims are often miss-gendered), there is an upward trend of murders in the last 3 years.
Transphobia refers to fear and/or hatred of transgender and other gender diverse people. Transphobia can take many forms, just as with other types of bigotry and oppression. Not only affecting people during individual interactions, but transphobia can also be encoded into law when the government enacts bathroom bills and other forms of legislation designed to oppress transgender people. It also exposes transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, to a high risk of interpersonal violence (Boskey, 2020).

     Individuals may not think of themselves as transphobic but still exhibit transphobic behaviors and beliefs. It has been shown that not just explicit but implicit beliefs about transgender and gender diverse people are related to transphobia. Systemic cissexism and transphobia are similar to systemic racism, in that they do not require overt dislike of transgender people. It may just be based on implicit gender essentialist beliefs that affect interpersonal behaviors and policy development. Transphobia has been shown to affect numerous aspects of people’s lives including education, housing, employment, health and well-being, medical care, relationships etc. (Boskey, 2020).

Those tremendous difficulties which are faced by the transgender which have led to discrimination include fear of losing their jobs once they express their true gender identities, harassment at school and invisibility mental-health problems and school- dropout. However, as argued by Subharjit (2014), discrimination towards this community does not only deny the access to employment, healthcare, education and housing but it also marginalizes them in the society and makes them as one of the vulnerable groups to be excluded in the society. On the other hand, as according to Stotzer (2009) based on her study in the United States of America, most violences which are encountered by the transgender community are sexual violence, physical violence and emotional violence.
There are forms of violence which are usually faced by the transgender community which include emotional violence, physical violence and sexual violence. Therefore, how do these forms of violence affect transgender rights as a human being?
Apart from that, according to Divan, Cortez, Smelyanskaya and Keatley (2016), transgender has to deal with transphobia which can be too extreme when discriminating the community where it can lead to murder, torture and inhumane treatment on transgenders.

     A vital part of understanding a social problem, and a precursor to preventing it, is an understanding of what causes it (Crowell & Burgess, 1996). Transgender people face violence because of their gender non-conformity, and the nature and extent of that violence has been the focus of recent research. Numerous studies have demonstrated that transgender people experience high levels of violence from strangers and known others alike, and that they often face a lifetime of repeated victimization (Stotzer, 2009).