Beliefs Culture Institutions LGBT, race and religion

PHOTOS: For trans Muslims in Malaysia, daily life brings struggles, triumphs

A transgender woman prays in a room adjacent to her beauty salon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on June 13, 2015. She prays in men's clothes, believing that in front of God she was born and always will be a man. She says she avoids going to mosques for fear of public shunning. Religion News Service photo by Alexandra Radu

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (RNS) 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.

Click on any photo below to view a slideshow documenting the everyday struggles and triumphs of Malaysia’s transgender communities. Transgender individuals photographed asked that their names not be used.

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About the author

Alexandra Radu

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