In this life, we make lots of choices – what to wear, what to eat, where to work, where to holiday, who to marry, how many children to have. Some are very important choices. Some are not. The choices we make determine our happiness or our unhappiness because we have to live with the consequences. Through these choices, we shape our lives and our society.
However there are times when we are robbed of the freedom to make choices simply because those choices have already been made for us. This includes the colour of our skin, our ethnicity, our bloodline and our sexuality.
Who makes these choices on our behalf? Our Creator does.
Can you blame God if you are born with a dark complexion? Can you blame God if you are born into poverty? Can you blame God if you are born with a disease? Can you blame God if you are born a transgender?
“O people, we created you all from a male and female
And made you into different communities and different tribes
So that you should come to know one another
Acknowledging that the most noble among you
Is the one most aware of God”
First of all, let’s get this fact into our thick skulls – no human is better than another because of the social categories we classify ourselves into. A woman is worth no less than a man. A transgender is worth no less than a woman or a man.
This is the beauty of Islam where we are all equal in the eyes of God. What does make us different from each other is how we conduct ourselves.
However, for many Muslims, being a transgender is a matter of sin. But how fair is this when we hold them responsible for something they have absolutely no control over?
A quick check shows the population of Malaysia in 2014 was 30,267,367. Of this number, 50.7% were males, and the remaining 49.3%, female. There were no statistics on the third gender – it’s as if they did not exist.
This is a loud and clear message that we live in a society where the entire focus is on male and female distinctions while the existence of transgenders is expertly brushed under the carpet.
Today there are approximately 10,000 transgenders in Malaysia. They face discrimination, abuse and harassment. They are deemed unworthy and looked down upon by the same society that preaches tolerance, unity, equality and mutual respect.
Although it has been proven scientifically that transgenders suffer from a genetic disorder which makes them the way they are, we tend to ignore this fact.
With our kopiahs and jubahs; and armed with our Holy Book, we throw filthy looks at them and point accusing fingers when we spot them in a crowd.
What has become of society? How can being born with a disorder be regarded a crime?
Today we accept corruption as the norm of a developed nation yet are quick to pick on transgenders over a choice they did not have the liberty to make. What bullies we have turned out to be!
Let us not talk of the constitution. There are already too many people talking about Article 5,8,9 and 10 of our constitution. Let us forget about human rights, freedom of expression and all that mumbo jumbo.
Let us just try to be sane for one minute and think with a clear mind. How would you feel imprisoning a man who has stolen a piece of bread because he hasn’t eaten for days? Now compare that with the case of transgenders.
Justice and fairness is the core of Islam. Islam tells us to be compassionate human beings. Islam tells us to help our brothers and sisters who are in need of our assistance regardless of the individual’s background or beliefs.
If cross-dressing was to be considered a sin because we are changing God’s natural order, then all of our daily tasks would be sins. You take wheat and turn it into bread – that’s a change. You cut your hair and trim your beard – that is a change. You go to a dentist and put on braces – that is a change. There are thousands of things we do every day that changes God’s natural order. Why are those not considered sins?
We live in a civilised society – a society built on the foundations of mutual respect and the love we have for each other. We live in an Islamic country – a country that holds the wonderful principle of Islam so close to its heart.
So why the ignorance? Or will we make a stand only when we have a transgender child of our own?
Arresting transgenders for how they dress and express themselves violates their basic rights as human beings. Are we going to deny their rights to live alongside us too? Why not just push them off a cliff and be done with it?
Like I said, life is all about making choices. Transgenders might not have the liberty of making choices. But you do. You can either have a heart. Or you can be a bully. You decide.