23 Dec 2009

Malaysian transsexual faces deportation for overstaying in Britain

The New Straits Times's Audrey Vijaindren asks if Malaysian society lacks compassion and kindness towards transgenders as the media reports on Fatine Young, a Malaysian transsexual who faces deportation (and possibly jail) to Malaysia for overstaying in Britain with her husband.

The following is an extract from The New Straits Times (Malaysia). Click on the link below for the full story.

Fatine Young, Malaysian transsexual who is married to a Briton, 
faces deportation to Malaysia because immigration procedures 
were not followed. Fatine's first leave-to-remain-visa was refused 
in September, on the grounds of an incorrect passport photo. 
Her second bid was rejected as it was received after the visitor's 
visa had expired. Read more in The Star and The Malay Mail.

Since the media went to town with Fatine Young's immigration dilemma, questions have arisen on whether our society lacks compassion and kindness when it comes to transgenders. AUDREY VIJAINDREN speaks to experts and religious leaders who believe it's time Malaysians vacate the judgement seat and adopt a more sympathetic approach.

Rude whistling from passing cars, derogatory name-calling and warding off items that are hurled in their direction are only some of the many things Malaysian transgenders have had to live with for years.

The story of transsexual Fatine Young, 36, who married a British man and is about to be deported to Malaysia for overstaying, is yet another plight of a transgender.

But as the world evolves and society advances, is it time we got off our high horses and started acting more humane? Whether their courage and lifestyle is right or wrong, admirable or sinful, do transgenders deserve less respect and dignity than anyone else?

PT acting executive director and Pink Triangle programme director, Raymond Tai, believes there is much misunderstanding and ignorance among many Malaysians regarding transgenders. 

"There is so much misconception on what it means to be a transgender, transsexual, transvestite or gay. Because people do not understand what each term means, there is confusion and a tendency to make moral judgments.

"Transgender is the third gender and is often for life. A transvestite on the other hand is just a fetish to cross dress occasionally. Transsexual is a subset of a transgender, and often implies those who are on some form of hormone treatment, have done plastic surgery or sexual reassignment.

"Those of us who have a relative or friend who is a transgender will find that they are no different from mainstream society and that their 'transgender being' is just part of their whole identity."

Tai says the general perception of transgenders is that they lead an immoral life.

"Because most Malaysians' main contact with transsexuals are those they see on the street doing sex work or in performances, their impression of a transsexual is based on what they read in the media.

"Unfortunately, most local media portray transsexuals in a negative light, stereotyped as dishonest sex workers who steal and con their clients, and are irresponsible and irreverent."