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Meet 'Aunty' Freda!

about 2 years ago



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When I was a kid, my mother had this friend who was in the entertainment industry. Whenever he visited, I was told to call him ‘Aunty Freda’. Talk about confusing a child!

Well, that was my first encounter with ‘people of that sort’.

Then during my secondary school days, we had some ‘soft’ students. We knew they were ‘pondans’. They had no interest in girls, they talked and acted ‘different’.

But funny enough, they were our friends. It never crossed our minds to pick on them because they were different.

Yes, we may tease them once in a while, but we would never victimise them. That was just plain wrong.

Fast forward to today. Certain people in Malaysian society seem to have big issues with the transgender group.

Let's dive into this issue.


Transgender - Denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.

Basically, it’s a person, who feels that he/she is in the wrong body.

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What this article is NOT about

I must make it clear that we are not talking about gays, lesbians or homosexuals etc. We are talking about people who are ‘gender mis-matched’ as I would put it.

Religion and morality?

No, I am not going to touch on that at all.

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It is about injustice

Yes, this is about the injustice that members of the transgender group are faced with daily.

Here is their story, as told by them:

Levin, aged 36, transgender male

My frustration is that I am not accepted by society or even my family.

I realised by my early teens that I was not like other girls. This caused a lot of confusion for me at first. But, as I grew older it started to dawn upon me that I am born a girl but am a man.

Growing up was not easy for me. When I was 13, a schoolmate asked me if I liked a girl. I innocently replied, “Yes”. Then the nightmare started.

I was nicknamed 'AIDS'.

School friends would wipe down the chair that I sat on. I became a social outcast.

There was nothing nice about school for me. That is why I do not look back. I leave my past behind because it hurts.

For this reason, I do not keep in touch with my school friends. I stay away from school reunions to avoid unnecessary pain. Funny enough, many still cannot accept who I am today.

Today, it is still hard. People judge me by my looks and not my capabilities. I need to work harder to prove myself.

Some employers are kind but many are not. When a mistake happens, they will say, “See la, those type of people are like that one.”

So now, I run my own business. I keep a low profile. I am happy with the life I have created. I do not tell people much about my past.

I keep myself safe. Something that I have been doing since young.

I can only push forward. Life is about moving on. I just want to work to pay the bills.

Picture credit:

Hezreen, 35, political secretary

Job and education have always been a major hurdle for those from the transgender community. We face prejudice all the time.

Like for education, the national universities say there is a conflict of identity and they are not keen on our application. When applying for study loans we face problems too.

As I looked for a job, many employers won’t hire me. They say it is because they are unsure which toilet I should use. They tell me, “If I hire you, then which toilet do you use?”

I always inform the potential employer that I will just follow what they decide is best. But I am not hired despite having various qualifications.

Some employers even expect me to cut my hair short and act like a man. I always tell them I cannot pretend to be who I am not.

Working with the private sector has been a challenge. If I make a small mistake, I hear remarks such as, “Itu lah, you ambil orang yang tak serupa orang, kerja macam ini lah.”

We are looked down upon. We do not have any value.

That is why many from the transgender community end up in industries such as hairstylist, make-up artists, fashion or lifestyle. They find that in those industries they are welcomed and it is a place they can be themselves.

We are forced to look for employment in certain sectors only. But I believe, one day, peoples’ views will change.

Food for thought

Our constitution does not make them social outcasts. Their existence is not an offence under any law.

Members of the transgender community are entitled to the same rights as any average Malaysian.

But it has been denied.

Due to prejudice and how judgmental Malaysians have become.

As we ponder over how certain fellow Malaysians are treated, do keep an eye out on the next article about the work being done by certain politicians for the transgender community.

Politicians who dare to fight for those who live in the shadows.

(Picture credit: The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Every situation is unique and dependent on the facts (ie, the circumstances surrounding your individual case) so we recommend that you consult a lawyer before considering any further action. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.
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