I am starting to feel disillusioned about the campaign to get Fatine (born Mohammed Fazdil Min Bahari) residing in the United Kingdom with her husband. There are several reasons to me feeling a mix of emotions. As much as I want her to be able to stay there and never come back to this largely anti-trans country, I cannot help but wonder about the damage it has caused to the transgender community in Malaysia.
Whether she likes it or not, her decision to open up to the British media has reignited a long standing debate on transgender issues in Malaysia. Although the opponent's arguments fail to stand against the light of the facts and science about transsexualism; however, it is the religious arguments that I am concerned about. These emotive beliefs seem to have created a climate even more less favourable for trans people. And while she is still safe in the United Kingdom, some of us are starting to feel the brunt.
Her outing has also instigated several parties to petition in defense of her marriage to Ian Young. As the third class style media continue to sensationalize her issue (and still using the wrong pronouns), we are fanning the flames of fire to fight for one single person’s right to be with her husband. But who is she? She is virtually an unknown until the news came out in Malaysia. She has never spoken up for the trans community in Malaysia. She has never done any benefit to the LGBT community or for human rights.
So why are we supporting someone that we hardly know, so strongly? Why are we putting her in the pedestal as some kind of trans female heroine for Malaysia? We can argue that she has been discriminated by the Immigration DG, but how many more others have been discriminated by one government official to another? What validation are we looking for in our quest to get her to be safe?
And as a person who was once married to a caucassion staying overseas, I must say I do examine her intentions. I must admit there is a part of me that is desperate to get out of country because of its confused and prejudicial state against trans people. Does she have the same feeling? Is she just using Ian Young? Is it really love that brought them together or is it something else? Is she just an opportunist?
There are a few scenarios now that can happen now. She can stay with Ian Young in the United Kingdom and drop under the radar, and her story will be mentioned once in a while. She will then fade into obscurity. At that time, we would not even know whether she is still married, divorced, or anything. Or she can come back to Malaysia, gets charged and sent to prison where she will be a bigger martyr, something she would never think of. Then within a few months, she would disappear from all the limelight.
Right at this moment, she is taking all the support, love and attention from everyone; but not one instance did she speak up on anything in support back to the other tens of thousands of us that are stranded in Malaysia, that have to face increased transphobia ever since she got herself that 15 minutes of fame. And one can seriously doubt if she will ever speak up for her sisters here in Malaysia. One day, after she leaves the spotlight, we may even wonder what had she done for the LGBT to get our support.
The rest of us that are back here may face the aftermath of all this. No one will know her better than she knows herself, but we know we may be facing difficult times ahead. Currently in Malaysia, trans people are bullied in schools and some are driven to the brink of suicide. Most trans people are not able to get proper jobs, and end up on the streets because they are turned away when they wish to rent a room.
Some would even be turned away when they seek medical help. Many of trans people continue to face biased prosecution from the civil and syariah laws, and persecution from almost all the religions institutions in Malaysia. Most will continue to live with stigmatization and discrimination. More names of trans people who are murdered will be added to the Transgender Day Of Remembrance for next year.
All while Fatine is miles and miles away, enjoying her new home, new life, and close to her new freedom.
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