Group says violence against trans, gender-diverse people up in Covid-19 pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Trans and gender diverse people face increased violence and mental health issues during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a rights group.

Justice for Sisters said trans and gender diverse people were not only economically affected but also faced violence.

“SEED Malaysia observes an increase in trans women seeking shelter due to violence and lack of acceptance by family members,” the group said in a statement.

The group said trans women were often subjected to violence by family members and the public, were sexually objectified and stereotyped as sex workers and were victims of doxxing.

They said documents showed trans and gender diverse people face multiple forms of violence but most cases were not reported.

“Many trans women, especially sex workers, lack access to justice due to the multiple forms of criminalisation under the laws, state policies that promote ‘rehabilitation’, and the increasing social stigma, perception and attitudes towards transgender people,” they claimed.

They added that previous negative and traumatic experiences with the police and state officials deterred trans and gender diverse persons from seeking support and assistance.

“As a result, this violence that could have been prevented, are prolonged with impunity and remain invisible,” they said.

They said at least two murder cases involving trans women were reported in Malaysia between November 2019 and October 2020.

They cited a case in May this year where a trans woman from Indonesia was found dead in her room, allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, and another case of a young trans woman who was found dead in her home in Johor Baru.

They also revealed that there were 14 reported cases of murder of trans women in Malaysia between 2015 and 2020, with between one to four cases each year.

According to the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM), a total 350 trans and gender diverse people, with an average age of between 15 and 31 years old, were reportedly murdered between October 1 in 2019 and September 30 this year.

This is a six per cent increase in reported murders compared to last year.

They said the report showed that 98 per cent of those murdered were trans women or trans feminine people and 62 per cent were sex workers.

Thirty-eight per cent of the murders took place on the street and 22 per cent in their own residence.

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