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Controversy Surrounding Transgender Toilet Use Sparks Debate In Malaysia

Controversy Surrounding Transgender Toilet Use Sparks Debate In Malaysia

In her tweet, she shared an experience at a women’s toilet in KLCC several years ago involving a trans woman.

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The discourse surrounding the trans-community in Malaysia is nothing new and has gone on for ages.

Recently, a debate on whether or not a transwoman should be able to use a female toilet garnered utmost attention from netizens on Twitter following a tweet from @hnnhxhrmn.

In her tweet, she shared an experience that she went through with a friend several years ago at a women’s toilet in KLCC.

She tweeted that a niqabi friend of hers wanted to fix her scarf when they noticed that the toilet had a well known transwoman who was there fixing her makeup.

She added that while the transwoman may identify as a woman, under Islamic laws, it is still stated that a woman’s aurah cannot be shown to someone who is male at birth.

She went on to tweet that she had kindly and very politely asked if the transwoman could exit the washroom so that her friend could take off her hijab to fix her hair bun.

To her surprise, the transwoman reacted negatively and rudely towards her request.

She also added that she has waited for the group of them to finish fixing their makeup. 

Instead, when they were done, she added that they had decided to take multiple selfies in front of the mirror. 

This made her approach them to ask them to leave.

This series of tweets had gained several comments from people of various backgrounds, with many defending the transwoman, stating that the Twitter user had no right to ask them to leave.

Others also noted that @hnnhxhrmn and her friend should have considered using another toilet around KLCC instead.

Others pointed out that the statements made by @hnnhxhrmn were not transphobic and that she was instead just protecting her female friend’s rights as a Muslim woman.

So, What Toilets Should The Trans-Community Use?

In Malaysia, the rights and protections for transgender individuals are limited, and there are no specific laws or regulations addressing which toilets transgender people can use. 

In most public spaces, including shopping malls, airports, and government buildings, restrooms are designated for male, female and disabled, which often make transgender individuals feel a sense of discomfort when using public facilities that do not align with their gender identity.

In 2018, amid the then ongoing debate surrounding the rights of the LGBTQ community in Malaysia, Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin weighed in on the issue by advising transgender individuals to use the toilets corresponding to their biological sex.

Expressing his views on Facebook, he noted that if one has a penis they should use the male toilet while if someone has female genitalia, they should use the women’s toilet.

He added that if any individual is unsure, they should consult an expert who can observe them while they urinate.

On the other hand, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh said transgenders should opt to use the OKU-friendly toilets to avoid any sort of concerns or issues from the public.

According to the New Straits Times, she said this would be a good move to help women feel more secure in female toilets. 

For example, if the person psychologically believes that he is a female then he is more comfortable using facilities meant for females. When he uses the male toilet, he is subject to harassment. However, when he is using the female toilet, some would not feel comfortable and may be concerned for their safety. We are trying to understand the transgender community. At the moment, the best solution is for them to use the disabled toilets until society can accept them.

Fuziah Salleh

It is good to note that this debate however has yet to be solved and no alternate solutions have been brought up by the government just yet.

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