MyNETRA (Malaysian Network of Transgender People) – a group organised through Facebook by community based organisation, PT Foundation Mak Nyah requested technical support via a facilitated workshop to empower members of the transgender community in Malaysia.
Stigma towards men who have sex with men and transgender people in Malaysia is high. Legal reviews conducted by the UN have found that Malaysia is “prohibitive in high intensity” and “highly repressive” for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. Read more.
The TraCE workshop was therefore conceived and delivered by facilitators from the community, and took place within a private, intimate environment to guarantee the safety of the participants.
The workshop was not a traditional ‘consultation’ as would be standard for the creation of a ‘national network launch’ meeting. This would have been jumping far ahead of the reality of where the transgender community currently stands in Malaysia.
The participants included clients of the PT Foundation Social Centre, and were also recruited from two networks that operate through the social network, Facebook: one for transgender people (MyNETRA) and one for transgender men (mostly from Penang in the north of Malaysia).
The content of the workshop focused on personal responses to issues around discrimination, stigma,and physical and emotional abuse. Feedback at the end included:
“A lot of changes in me…I started to accept to have a friend in my life.”
“I am more open now and very happy I went for TraCE workshop.”
“Self discovery make me feel that I’m a lucky person in my own way…just be proud and thankful with what we have…I’m trans women!!!...so what?”
“I once feel awkward at first with the transmen…but after last night with feelings of shame I change after I know them more closely, I know we have a story. When I look at them, it’s just like looking in the mirror.”
Greg Gray, TS Hub Manager for South East Asia and Pacific said: “Following the workshop, the facilitators have made efforts to link the Malaysian community to the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (ATPN). The facilitators acknowledge that this meeting is only a first step, but believe that if further workshops take place in the next couple of years, then we are likely to see a shift in thinking and acceptance amongst the Malaysian transgender community.”
The TraCE workshop took place over three days in February 2012. 21 transgender people took part (14 trans women, 7 trans men).
For more details about the workshop programme, contact the South East Asia and Pacific Hub.