Gender identity not determined by genitals, civil societies insist amid Nur Sajat’s test

NGOs have criticised Jakim over a ‘gender test’ on celebrity entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman. — Picture courtesy of Instagram/Nur Sajat
NGOs have criticised Jakim over a ‘gender test’ on celebrity entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman. — Picture courtesy of Instagram/Nur Sajat

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — A coalition of NGOs has slammed the federal Islamic authority over a “gender test” on celebrity entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman, explaining today that one’s genitals do not determine his or her gender identity.

The groups stressed that nobody should be forced to undergo gender or medical tests to prove their gender identity, and Putrajaya should instead implement meaningful measures to increase understanding and educate government agencies and the public regarding gender identity and gender-based bullying and violence.

“We firmly believe that no one should be subjected to gender or medical tests to prove their gender identity. This process in inherently intrusive, degrading, dehumanising and most importantly, unnecessary.

“We emphasise that gender identity is not determined by our genitals. In addition both sex and gender identity is a spectrum, consisting of many identities that are not limited to male, female, women and men,” the NGOs said.

The group also demanded the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to come clean and release the contents of its gender test and its related processes, after the body announced that it would determine Sajat’s gender in one month.

The NGOs also reminded Jakim and the government about Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stipulates that everyone is born equal and free, and are entitled to live their lives with dignity.

“We are concerned that this move by Jakim will further victimise and bring humiliation to Nur Sajat.

“Her wellbeing and dignity should always remain the utmost priority, as he has been the recipient of hateful comments,” the NGOs added.

The statement today was endorsed by 14 groups, including transgender groups Justice for Sisters and Trans men of Malaysia, women’s groups EMPOWER, Sisters in Islam, Women’s Aid Organisation and All Women’s Action Society, Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative, Komuniti Muslim Universal, and Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists.

Public speculation over Nur Sajat’s gender remains a hot topic after controversial blogger Wan Muhammad Azri or Papagomo accused her of being a trans woman and made a complaint to the government about it, after which Jakim announced that it would scrutinise the matter.

Malaysia’s Islamic laws prohibit same-sex relationships and cross-dressing.

A senior assistant director in Jakim’s family, social and community development division Mohd Izwan Md Yusoh last week said investigations into Nur Sajat’s gender are expected to take at least a month as it involves many parties.