KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Discrimination, persecution and violence are daily battles for the estimated 20,000 transgender people in Malaysia, most of whom are Muslims. Islamic law forbids cross-dressing, and Malaysia’s government demonstrates a zero-tolerance policy toward transgender issues.
Frequent raids by religious authorities and police result in fines, arrests or both. Many transgender Malaysians have been arrested at least once, some spending years in prison. They also face high unemployment rates, homelessness, social exclusion and reduced access to health care and education.
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This story originally appeared on RNS as part of a series on the intersection of faith, ethnicity, and sexuality, brought to you with support from the Arcus Foundation.
Alexandra Radu is a journalist based in Malaysia.