Fear stalks transgenders

KLANG: Several transgenders have come out to talk about their fears as news of a transgender woman who was beaten to death by a group of men started to go viral.

The 32-year-old transgender from Sabah is believed to have been brutalised by several men wielding blunt weapons in Bukit Tinggi, Klang, on Wednesday night, leaving her with a severely fractured skull and 32 other injuries.

Sex worker Arika Mohd Sharif, 47, said the lives of transgender women were often fraught with various threats and challenges that forced them to live in the shadows.

They face a bigger risk if they have little education and depend on the sex trade to fend for themselves.

“There are always people who hate us for what we are and say we are ‘jijik’ (repulsive),” she said.

Arika waits for clients behind a locked grill at the foot of the staircase that leads up to her third floor flats for safety measures.

“Sometimes groups of men who are drunk come here just to call us names and rough us up because they find it funny to do so,” she said with a sigh.

Forty-two-year-old Sonali, who also works in the same area as Arika, said transgender women’s sufferings begin from the time they are youngsters and even before they transition.

“As we are on the soft side, we are bullied and ridiculed while growing up and because of this, most of us discontinue our studies,” she said.

Most also become estranged from their families who refuse to accept them for what they are, resulting in them becoming sex workers and open to abuse and assault.

“Ending-up on the streets poses a bigger danger and threat as there are some people who think and believe we are lesser human beings,” said Sonali.

Her friend Lala, 20, said transgender women who walk the streets have to be cautious at all times given the level of hatred shown to them.

“We move very carefully and are cautious. Yet we do get attacked at times,” she said.

Social worker Jessie Rajendran who helps the transgender sex workers in the Chow Kit area says sometimes the attacks on the women are pre-planned.

She added that there have also been instances where the women ended up being gang-raped and beaten.

Transgender activist Nisha Ayub recalled a past incident when she was publicly attacked three years ago.

She was brutally beaten and slashed in public by two men which was also witnessed by her mother.

One of the assailants hit her back with a long rod and the other slashed her with a weapon on her thighs.

Following the incident, Nisha admitted that she has been living in fear of being publicly attacked by random assailants.

“I’m always cautious with whatever I do, wherever I go and even who I speak to.

“Before the incident, I never thought about my safety. I never imagined people would attack me for nothing. I now fear for my safety and my family’s as well,” she said.

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