Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz is a woman, but not in the eyes of a
Aziz underwent sex reassignment surgery in 2008. After the National Registration Department refused to update Aziz’s gender and name on her identity card, the 26-year-old woman went to court,
in May 2011, hoping to receive a ruling in her favour.
She was unsuccessful.
The Malaysian High Court ruled that a person’s sex is
determined at birth. Aziz’s lawyer told the Associated Press, “The court has
ruled it has no jurisdiction to make such an order and that the sex of a child
is determined at birth and can’t be changed through surgery.”
According to reports, Aziz had the support of her parents —
thank goodness — to change her name to Aleesha Farhana Abdul Aziz. She wants to
continue studies at a local university. She was working at a pharmaceutical
company until she quit when her employer barred her from wearing women’s
clothes to work.
If Aziz were legally recognized as a woman, she would be able
to carry on with her dreams, which are now on hold.
It is estimated that there are 50,000 transsexuals in
Malaysia, and many, like Aziz, face widespread prejudice and
Although reassignment surgery is legal in Malaysia, trans people have faced difficulties in legally changing their gender status. The
last time a trans person was allowed to do so was in 2005, when a judge ruled
it was the court’s duty to help.
In Aziz’s case, the
court washed its hands of the issue, leaving Aziz, once
again, to struggle to gain acceptance in society.