Yesterday at the artist talk, i also shared what happened a few things back in Msia about Transwomen community situations and one of it is our name. Our chosen name, our identity. If you're born Malay, you are automatically Muslim. (if you don't believe and want out, the consequences is the gov media will slut-shame you to the whole nation so most Malay who don't practise or want out, keep it a secret).
Recently there were 2 Malay / Muslim Transwomen who passed away and her circle or close friends preventing others to not using her female or chosen name and kept mentioning their legal identification name in big caps gave me a cringe. a fucking half-closed-eyes-epileptic cringe. It happened before many times. Malaysian Transwomen community there are basically 2 school of thoughts. One from the old school or from the old indoctrines that basically if you're born into this world as a male with the name attached or given to you, you can't change it until you die. This kind of rigid thought that makes it hard for some transwomen to start transitioning. Some may still believe it is wrong or a sin for being a Transwoman and being apologetic all the time submitting to their religious family's value.
I was heavily indoctrinated and sent to religious school since primary school to a religious high school. Was reminded to pray every minute, every hour. Guilt-driven life yo! Growing up in this environment makes a lot of Transwomen felt guilty for being themselves and main caused of depression and some transition very late in life and missed a lot of opportunities like any other girls. Some when getting older even cut their hair short, start to wear male attire and going to hospital get the silicone out (not for health reason but more to preparing for the graves/meet their maker). The religious institutions also plays a big part in the society (moral policing) especially in Transwomen's lives. It is well known in the community few years back they have a correction camp to toughen up or make the transwomen to become men again (good luck with that) and recent phenomenon is they chose a few transwomen who fits their criteria (guilt from broken relationship with her partner + drug abused = repented life) and use her to promote the religious institution's agenda and that Transwomen can de-transtion and basically the message is to enforce their message that Transwomen are actually…just a male/man.
In this one of many blog article of said transwoman ( http://www.ekeleh.com/rayuan-cikgu-erin-kepada-golongan-mak-nyah/ ) who de-transitioned, sponsored by the religious institution who she mentioned and appeal to Transwomen community to stop fighting for their rights and just pay the fines (syariah law in Malaysia- male person who wear female attire in public can be fined and jail( https://justiceforsisters.wordpress.com/laws/ ).
Quote from the article “Sepatutnya ketika hukuman dijatuhkan, mereka perlu membayar denda. Tetapi mereka sengaja ‘bermain api’ dan ingin mencabar keputusan mahkamah." translates "When you were detained/apprehended by religious officers, just pay the fines but they (transwomen community) loves to play with fire". This word is a direct translation and a subtle threat to the community from the religious institution using her as a puppet to warn the Trans community.
I also shared with my colleagues and friends that many transwomen also couldn't enter university because they're not allowed to be who they are / force to cut their hair and wear male attire.
I am so so proud of what Aleesha Farhana did. She's the only one who brave enough to fight for what she thought were right. She went to get her name change and rejected, picked up by the stupid tabloid and became big issue on the national media that gets her so depresseded and pass away. She is my hero until now. Many transwomen are scared to talk about this subject still thinking that its not right to get their name changed because of rigid mentality, indoctrination and dogma.
From the beginning it the struggle from self-acceptance, family acceptance, neighbors, society, learning institutions, job searching, bank loans, health institutions, prison, public sphere, transphobic media influence the surroundings/society = the whole nation and to the grave where your name on the bloody tombstone is still your male name. Nope i'm not even fucking proud its a bloody male prophet name. I am so done with religion. Washed hand thoroughly, wiped clean. I want to be where i can choose my own name and gender until its written in my tombstone in my own chosen name and not live through life reminded every minute, it is a sin to be who we are. I guess my work on Transwomen issues, trying to explain in a different perspective is also part of my experience failed in communicating with my family of who i am and of course we don't have to do it but its just becoming one element and part of my work and practice.
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