Friday, July 18, 2008

The Transphobia.

I was reading "Questioning Transphobia” on the “Transphobic Tropes” series written by QueenEmily. Just after the second part of the series, it got me into a mood of reflections of all the things that had happened to me for the past two and a half years of my life. All of the issues and incidences that she mentioned are so real in my life even now, and whichever country a transgender is living in, will not be spared to such problems, the only difference being in frequency, political climate and the level of transphobia which differs from each state of my country Malaysia and throughout of South East Asia.

I came out again, matured and ready to face the world on February 2006. At that time I was still growing my hair and took the full course of hormones required of me to undergo the transition. One of the most problematic problems that I faced was the problem of getting a job. My first employment then was in an IT company near my house. I was a sales executive. I specifically mentioned to my supervisor of my plans of transitioning. At that time it seemed acceptable. But soon all the tolerance I received turned slowly into hatred, as all of my colleagues were not comfortable working with me. The trend began.

In every company that I struggled to work with all these years, there is barely any recognition of my womanhood. The bosses liked to call be “boy”. Colleagues asked me why I “choose” to be a girl. Some company’s bosses accepted me but my co workers do not. Some of my co-workers do not mind hanging around with me, but the manager who first thought he was okay with me soon turned nasty and did all he can to get me out of his sight. In some I was fired, some I was played out. At least I was lucky enough to step foot into a company for at least a few months each to pay my dues. But looking for a job is hard. Of more than 200 e-mails and letters I sent out, less than 5 would call me for an interview. I would barely have the opportunity to even see the human resource manager. Getting through an interview alone would be considered by me as a great achievement.

Then there was the violence. Beaten up at a pub for “not knowing my place”. Drugged and raped by so-called friends. Asked to give a blowjob by a policeman during a roadblock. When I was staying at an intermediate cost apartment my car would always be the victim. I would always find my car purposely scratched on the left, dented with either a kick or something and derogatory labels written with a knife on the surface of my boot. Even my tyres were not spared. Air would either be let out or my tyres, or there would be nails around them. Fixing the damages was so tiring and expensive. So I just gave up.

After that of course, would be the church. Being a devout Christian I felt it was necessary to go to church. But the churches I went to have problems with me (all 3 recommended me to Real Love Ministry aka Edmund Smith!) The fourth was friendlier, but there was an air of judgement in attitude, to questions in regards to my “lifestyle of dressing up”; I just got fad up. The fifth church if you can call it one, is the Real Love Ministry group. At first, they seemed to accept me. In the end, they are making attempts to “change” me.

Working for an NGO in Kuala Lumpur, I then realized I am not alone. And there were worse cases then me. Murders of transgender prostitutes behind the streets off the Raja Laut, especially the Indian sex workers. Brutality from the Islamic Religious Department. Violence by policemen on the Malay transgenders. Some of them were fortunate to have the PT Foundation to look after their welfare. Some were not so fortunate, and they were even afraid to voice out, because the newspaper in Malaysia would ridicule them.

Unlike in the US, there are no organizations here to regulate what the media says about people like us. Calling us by wrong pronouns is acceptable. Any murders would be met with the fixation of the “he” who dress in a “bra”. We are branded a “cultural problem” or a social ill. Some of us who are Malays would even be sent to something like an ex-gay camp in Terengganu in an attempt to “rehabilitate” us. The hate management is made worse by groups such as Real Love Ministry constantly wanting to go around spreading the spirit of intolerance by calling us “males who want to be females”. It is amazing that the media and these information presenters can be so ignorant of their misrepresentations.

So what does that leaves me? I was supposedly going change the gender marker on my identity card to female soon, but that is not going to happen after the Chonburi debacle. I had someone to watch over me in Australia, but I now have to watch over myself in Malaysia. Is there still hope for us in this country? I do not really know. Some of us are blessed with corporate jobs while some make do with the office job or pub job plus some sex work at night. Certain few passed as females, and would hope no one would out them, ever. Some of us are even lucky having supportive boyfriends. But the numbers are too few to really give any securities for the future of my sisters here, even for girl like me.

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