An Indian trans woman is seeking help from the government after Malaysia asked her to change the gender in her passport to ‘male’ before applying for a visa.
Shane Anthony Mills was scheduled to travel to represent India at a summit in Malaysia this month.
But, the Malaysian consulate in Chennai told the IT analyst, who is vocal about trans rights, that she could not apply under her passport’s current, third, gender.
’This is so embarrassing’ Shane Anthony Mills told Times of India. ‘To be told to go back and change my gender to “male” feels humiliating’.
In a landmark 2014 Supreme Court case, India recognized a third gender.
In South Asia, people regard a number of gender identities as a third gender. For example, ‘Hijra’ may have been assigned male at birth and live as women. Some also identify as trans or intersex or just as Hijra.
Shane Anthony Mills took to Twitter to ask India’s Minister of External Affairs to help.
Shane Anthony Mills I am transgender from Hyderabad. I work as senior analyst for Dell. I have been nominated for Global Erg summit at Penang Malaysia to be held on January 28th 2019. However I am unable to get Evisa it has no option for my gender. Please help
— Shane Mills (@Shanemils18) January 18, 2019
Since Malaysia’s new government took power in May year, LGBTI residents have faced a conservative backlash.
Malaysia publicly caned two women for ‘attempting lesbian sex’. A number of government ministers and politicians have spoken out against the LGBTI community.
What gang of men beat a trans woman to death in December last year.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister, meanwhile, has said Malaysia ‘cannot accept’ LGBTI rights. He labeled them ‘Western’ values.
India’s fight for trans rights
Trans Indians, meanwhile, have been fighting a government-led bill that is supposed to protect their rights.
Trans Indians and their allies have been urgently rallying against a transgender bill. They want a parliamentary committee in the Upper House to review the law.
India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill last month.
But, the transgender community has slammed it. Activists describe it as ‘extremely problematic’.
Importantly, the bill denies the right to self identify. Officials or doctors would ‘inspect’ trans people before they could officially change gender, according to the bill.
The new law would also criminalize begging. Many trans Indians rely on begging as a livelihood.
Discrimination prevents them from mainstream education and workplaces. The new bill also has no provisions to encourage integration, they argue.
It also offers no extra protection for trans Indians. Currently, charges of stalking, sexual assault, and rape, apply only to cisgender women.