Cultural Conflicts Impede Medical Care & Legal Protection
Wilayah Malaysia. Sarban Singh writes that "They are the non-entities of society. Their misery is deepened by the reluctance of the authorities to recognise them as transsexuals. Yet they cling to the hope that society will one day accept them for who they are.
Nisha gyrated with consummate grace to the hugely popular Indonesian number Goyang Bali, her every move cheered by the boisterous crowd at the Jalan Yang Kalsom dangdut lounge in Ipoh.
She was dressed in a ravishing cream-and-red kebaya, and her complexion, long silky hair and full figure would be the envy of any woman.
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National Registration Department (NRD) director-general Datuk Mohd Abdul Halim Muhammad says the department cannot change the sex status of an individual, even if the person has undergone sex change surgery.
The rule is simple: The sex stated in the birth certificate of the individual will only be changed if erroneously entered.
"We are not the experts to determine if a person is a male or female. That is beyond us," Halim said, adding that this responsibility rested with the legal system.
Universiti Utara Malaysia associate professor Teh Yik Koon begs to differ.
"The authorities must allow this. We cannot rob transsexuals of their fundamental rights," said Teh, a trained criminologist from a British university and a lecturer in criminology and sociology at UUM.
. . . a survey of 507 transsexuals . . . found that 65 per cent were sex workers, 25 per cent worked in clubs, hair salons, beauty clinics and boutiques, and two per cent in small businesses.
Only eight were gainfully employed in the private and public sectors.
Also, about 30 per cent lived below the poverty line of RM450 then, and most earned less than RM1,000.