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Trans Malaysian millionaire clashes with religious authorities

Trans Malaysian millionaire clashes with religious authorities

Malaysian trans millionaire Safiey Ilias (Photo: Instagram)

Transgender Malaysian cosmetics idol Safiey Ilias took to Instagram this week to decline a meeting with one of the country’s religious leaders.

’Society expects too much’ she wrote on Instagram in Malay, according to the Malay Mail. ‘[It is as if] after meeting the mufti [a Muslim legal expert], I ought to change to become a man’ she reportedly wrote.

‘Or others will say, it is marketing for a new song, a new product. Or even, riding on religion’ she also said.

Federal Territories mufti Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad invited the millionaire for a ‘tea session’ after apparently receiving photos of her.

The Malay Mail also reports this likely referred to photos shared on Instagram of Safiey in a bikini.

‘I don’t know whether this opportunity is suitable or not’ the mufti reportedly wrote In his letter. ‘But I humbly invite you to the mufti office for us to exchange views, share feelings, and maybe there is a perspective that I can help for our common good,’ he said.

Significantly, the Mufti used the male pronoun ‘saudara’ in Malay language to refer to Safiey Ilias.


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Embattled minority

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Islamic Sharia Law runs parallel to the main judiciary. It is able to rule on religious affairs to varying degrees in the country’s different states.

Gay sex, however, is illegal nationwide in Malaysia under the British colonial-era statute, Section 377A.

What’s more, Malaysia is witnessing a crackdown on its LGBTI citizens.

A number of trans individuals have recently been attacked. But, activists claim they are unlikely to see justice.

Last year, two women were caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’.

The country’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, has also said LGBTI rights cannot be accepted in Malaysia. He described them as a ‘Western concept’.

Malaysia’s trans idol

Safiey Ilias is a Malaysian entrepreneur. She has made millions in the cosmetic industry.

What’s more, she has more than one million followers on Instagram.

After declining the invitation, Safiey Ilias also posted a photo of herself at a police station.

She said she would ‘let the authorities handle things’. The entrepreneur posted the photo after complaining about hate speech on her social media page.

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