Applaud Repeal of Cross-Dressing Ban


Target: Court of Appeal Malaysia Judge Mohamad Hishamudin Mohamad Yunus

Goal: Praise repeal of law banning Muslim men from wearing women’s clothing

In a huge victory for transgender individuals, Malaysia’s Court of Appeal recently decided that the state of Negeri Sembilan’s long-standing ban against men wearing women’s clothing is “degrading, oppressive, and inhumane.” Malaysian citizens are subject to Malaysian laws as well as Islamic laws, under which men who dress or act like women could be jailed for up to three years. In some states, women who wear men’s clothing are also persecuted. This decision comes at an important time for Malaysian transgender activists, just a few months after Human Rights Watch’s September report declared Malaysia one of the worst places around the world to be a transgender individual due to the religious and state-sponsored discrimination and violence.

The Court of Appeal’s three-judge panel overturned a 2012 decision by a lower court that ruled that the appellants, Muslims born in male bodies who identify as women, could not wear women’s clothing because they were born male. The appellants sued because they had been assaulted and arrested by Islamic officers for wearing hair clips and other typically feminine wardrobe items. Four years after their arrest, the appellants have finally won, thanks to the Court of Appeal’s judges ruling that the discriminatory law “deprives the appellants of the right to live with dignity.” Judge Mohamad Hishamudin Mohamad Yunus, the lead judge, noted, “It has the effect of denying the appellants and other sufferers of GID to move freely in public place.”

Thank Judge Judge Mohamad Hishamudin Mohamad Yunus for acting courageously to defend the human dignity of transgender Malaysians in Negeri Sembilan.


Dear Judge Mohamed Hishamudin Mohamed Yunus,

I am heartened by your Court of Appeal’s recent decision regarding the transgender Malaysians who have been persecuted for wearing clothing with which they identify. By affirming that transgender individuals have a right to live with dignity and go freely in public, you have ventured bravely into uncharted territory for Malaysian courts and secured a powerful victory for all Malaysians. This decision is a beacon of hope for transgender citizens who no longer have to hide their identities because of the fear of persecution and violence.

Thank you for taking a stand against discrimination against transgender citizens. Thank you for affirming transgender individuals’ rights to dignity and the use of public places while embracing their true identities. I hope that other Malaysian states will soon feel empowered to make similar decisions in support of their transgender citizens.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ParaDox via Wikimedia Commons

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