Ah Kua Show about Human Rights Violations

In Singapore, if you are openly transgender, the odds are stacked against you not because the government has an open policy of discrimination against transgender people here, but because of the silent discrimination that exists in the private and public sector.  It’s our punishment for speaking up for transgender rights.  Through such forms of oppression, our society colludes to coerce transgender activists to conform and to be “resigned” to the “shame and stigma” of being transgender.  Singapore transgender women are not allowed to appear on Primetime slots on Singapore television because someone out there deems us “unsuitable for primetime viewing”.  On what basis is this treatment being meted out to us?

In Thailand, transgender women are not granted legal recognition of their gender status.  As a result, they can only choose from a handful of unsavoury jobs such as prostitution and entertainment.  Some of their Western patrons take pity on them and round them up like cattle to be paraded as “ladyboy” showgirls overseas.  Some myopic Western media then zero in on these “circus performers” and paint a distorted picture of all Asian transgender women as ladyboy performers.  As Asian transgender women, we are embroiled in this vicious cycle of limited job opportunities and gender stereotyping – how can we creatively emerge from this bottomless pit?

In Malaysia, religious dogma punishes transgender women for expressing their femininity – a fact of life that many of us in “free” societies take for granted.  Just as in Thailand, many transgender women resort to sex work without even the option of low-hanging entertainment jobs.  Malay Muslim transgender sex workers are routinely harrassed by the police (one Indian Muslim activist recalls how she was made to parade her breasts to male prison inmates) and hauled up for counselling by the hypocritical religious regime comprising “spiritual” leaders who dye their hair and marry child brides.  In this patriarchal society, men are free to indulge their lust whereas women – transgender or not – are flogged for no greater sin than celebrating their femininity.  We get the point – you hate women.  But Adam chose to eat the apple.  And Allah was a fair teacher and punished him together with Eve.

Have no illusions about the Ah Kua Show – it’s about man’s inhumanity against transgender women.  It’s about human rights violations in Southeast Asia.  

Some people ask me why bother with transgender rights, after all, it’s just about some “silly men dressing up as women”.  If it were so simple, why do you think that in every society, people in positions of authority from government officials to religious leader invest so much energy in persecuting us?   

Watch this space.

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