Dreading expectations, transgender Safiey declines mufti’s invite to ‘tea’

Safiey said she has had enough after previous meetings with other religious figures. — Picture via Instagram/Safiey Ilias
Safiey said she has had enough after previous meetings with other religious figures. — Picture via Instagram/Safiey Ilias

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Cosmetics idol Safiey Ilias has turned down Federal Territories mufti Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad’s invitation to a “tea session, saying she would only be hounded by public expectations if she accepts.

The trans woman entrepreneur said she has had enough after previous meetings with other religious figures as well as continued public pressure for her to “change” to a man instead.

“It’s not that I don’t want to meet the mufti, but the society likes to expect too much,” she said in an Instagram post yesterday.

“[It is as if] after meeting the mufti, I ought to change to become a man. Or others will say, it is a marketing for a new song, a new product. Or even, riding on religion.”

 

 

She said she had already experienced much negativity after meeting religious teacher Ebit Irawan Ibrahim Lew, who regularly holds casual chats with the transgender community.

“Was it wrong for me to learn religious knowledge, to seek knowledge?” she asked.

She also posted a photograph of herself in a police station, saying she would “let the authorities handle things”, but did not elaborate.

However, the post followed another in which she complained of hate speech on her comments section.

 

 

In an “open letter” last week, Zulkifli said his office received several of photos of Safiey, which he said he could not verify but was likely referring to her pictures in a two-piece bikini as well as others posted on her Instagram account.

The mufti had also used the male pronoun “saudara” in Malay language to describe the trans woman.

Zulkifli had last year said religious authorities should revisit a fatwa, or religious edict, declaring transgenderism as un-Islamic, claiming the phenomenon is not inherently wrong.

In 2016, Safiey had announced that she would continue as a trans woman after a brief stint living in her biological male identity.

She had then said on top of the insults she had still received while trying to live as a man, she missed her life as a transgender, during which she felt empowered.

Previously, she had used the name “Sofea” as a trans woman, but she now keeps the “Safiey” name she used to adopt while living as a man, and usually refers to herself with the name “Syinta”.

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