In her own words: Why Nisha Ayub calls herself a trans activist

Trans advocate Nisha Ayub attends a press conference in Putrajaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Trans advocate Nisha Ayub attends a press conference in Putrajaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Responding to critics over her joint press conference with Islamic Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa yesterday, transgender activist Nisha Ayub said she would never “throw anyone under the bus”.

Speaking to Malay Mail after receiving backlash on social media from those within the LGBT community and those against them, Nisha explained why she called herself a transgender activist instead of an LGBT activist.

“If I were to say I am an LGBT activist, it means I am representing everyone and I think that isn’t right because I have no right to talk about or represent the other communities. I think they have the right to represent themselves and speak about their issues.

“If you recall, we (the transgender community) were fighting endlessly when we don’t want to be included or identified as part men having sex with men (MSM) group.

“As much as we are fighting for our own identity that we are not men, the other groups have their own identities too. That’s my point, if you look at my Facebook posts, it was always about the transgender community,” Nisha said.

She also pointed out that she is not as familiar with the issues faced by the LGBT community as a whole, and is better versed on issues facing the transgender community in Malaysia specifically.

Yesterday, there were news reports highlighting the fact that Nisha did not identify herself as an LGBT activist, which triggered a backlash on Twitter with some users accusing Nisha of throwing the rest of the LGBT community “under the bus”.

A tearful Nisha told Malay Mail she apologised if she had offended anyone, but it was never her intention to hurt or discriminate against others because her entire life has been a struggle against discrimination.

She reminded the public that yesterday’s meeting with Mujahid was to focus more on the issues facing the transgender community, and not the LGBT community as a whole, nor was it to focus on the fact that her photograph was taken down from the George Town Festival.

“Just before Datuk Mujahid called an end to the press conference, I also mentioned that others from the LGBT community should approach him to have an engagement with the minister.

“For the LGBT community, I’m the last person to practise discrimination because I’ve been through it... I’m sorry,” she said as her voice began to crack over the phone.

“I’m trying to do my best and I don’t want to discriminate against anyone. If they feel I did something wrong, it wasn’t my intention for the community. I’m sorry.”