KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — A transgender group urged the police today to accord humane treatment to trans women who were recently arrested in Penang.
Justice for Sisters also called for the repeal of laws that criminalise transgender people, after it was reported that six of the dozen trans women arrested last Thursday were investigated under Section 28 of the Penang Shariah Criminal Enactment 1996 for cross-dressing.
“These laws are not only discriminatory and violate fundamental human rights of transgender persons — including right to self-determination, freedom of movement and freedom of expression — but these laws are also open to abuse.
“In this case, although the women were asleep while they were arrested in their hotel rooms, they are still being investigated under Section 28,” Justice for Sisters said in a statement.
The Star Online reported Friday that 12 “transvestites” were arrested in George Town for various offences, including gang robbery and cross-dressing, while one of them — an Indonesian — had allegedly violated her social visit pass.
The article also published a picture of one of the detainees and referred to the transwomen with the male pronoun.
“The media cannot continue to dehumanise, dismiss and erase identities of trans people by misgendering (using the wrong pronouns) and using derogatory terms, like transvestite and cross dressers to refer to trans women,” said Justice for Sisters.
“The lack of positive portrayal of trans people, and the overwhelming negative and sensationalistic articles further increase anxiety and fear over personal security and safety among transgender persons. It further creates an unhealthy and unsafe environment for trans people in this country,” the group added.