New Year’s Day death of trans woman in Klang raises concerns

Nisha Ayub, Malaysia’s most prominent and globally-recognized LGBTQ+ activist took to her Facebook account this morning to share worrying news of yet another transgender woman’s death, this one happening in the early hours of January 1, 2019.

“Just start work today and I was informed that another young trans woman, age of 39 years old was found dead in Klang area on the 1st January 2019 at 4 am. Her body was dumped at a dumping area . I just cant bear listening the way she was found,” she wrote.

“We need laws that protects people that emphasizes on Hate Crimes against gender identity or sexuality (sic). The transgender community are the easiest target because of our visibility,” she added.

Authorities are claiming that the woman, who was of Sabahan descent, fell victim to a phone robbery gone awry.

Crimes against members of the transgender community have not been far from the headlines of late, with the recent murder of a 21-year-old transgender woman happening in the same town, in late December. Four young men, aged between 16 and 21 were arrested for the crime; however, police have been keen to play down the fact that the woman’s death was a hate crime. Instead, they again argued that the victim was killed for their mobile phone, and their LBGTQ+ status had nothing to do with it.

In August of this year, a group of five men attacked a transgender woman in Seremban, leaving her with horrific injuries that included several broken ribs, cuts, bruising, and a ruptured spleen, after the attackers used a piece of wood and plastic pipe to beat her.

Last year, two portraits of LGBTQ+ activists were removed from a non-political photo exhibit celebrating Malaysians at the behest of government officials, sparking wide outcry that the community was being sidelined by the new government. Worries of intolerance continued after an unprecedented caning sentence of two women in Terengganu over “attempted lesbian sex,” and a feeling of dread has been palpable since Prime Minister Mahathir declared to a Thai press conference that LGBTQ+ values are not of national concern: “Our value system is not the same as the West,” he said.

Throw in a grossly transphobic snack food ad that somehow made it past regulators, despite encouraging violence towards members of the LGBTQ+ community, and there’s little wonder that Coconuts KL declared that the new government was failing a fair portion of voters who expected a positive change in extending human rights to all.

Progressives are asking for hate crime laws to be extended to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community, with attacks targeting sexual orientation and gender identity being included in legislature.

This article, New Year’s Day death of trans woman in Klang raises concerns, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. For more Coconuts stories, you can download our app, sign up for our newsletters, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.