PETALING JAYA: A localised guidebook on gay and transgender people has been produced to create greater sensitivity in the media and among the public.
The guidebook was produced by the American media group, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and has been translated into Malay and Mandarin, according to Star Online.
It incorporates local phrases such as Mak Nyah and Pengkid.
A civil society group Justice for Sisters produced the translated versions, and printed about 1,000 copies for the media. Copies are also available for download from the websitejusticeforsisters.wordpress.com.
The 44-page guidebook contains explanations on gender identity, acceptable terminology, problematic language, case studies and existing anti-transgender laws in Malaysia.
The president of the National Union of Journalists, Chin Sung Chew, was quoted as saying the union would disseminate the information to its members, but the editorial tone of newspapers and other media was determined by the publication’s editors and not the reporters.
In the report, Transmen of Malaysia founder Dorian Wilde urged media outlets and bloggers to be more sensitive and less sensational when reporting on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues.
He said English-language online media and Chinese-language newspapers were more progressive, while noted newspapers in English and Tamil were making progress.
However Malay-language newspapers tended to shame the LGBT community with outrageous and defamatory statements.
KUALA LUMPUR: A gender activists group has released a transgender-identity guidebook in an effort to promote greater sensitivity by the media and public on LGBT issues.
Justice for Sisters volunteer S. Thilaga said the book was based on a media guide by the American media watchdog Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), and translated to Malay and Mandarin and updated to include local phrases.
“Western sensitivity guides don’t translate in Malaysia, we’ve our own colloquial terms and local nuances with words like Mak Nyah and Pengkid,” she said.
The NGO printed about 1,000 guides for the media, LGBT allies and educators; while the public could also download it from JFS’ websitehttps://justiceforsisters.wordpress.com.
The 44-page guide in Malay covered explanations on gender identity, acceptable terminology, problematic language, case studies and existing anti-transgender laws in Malaysia.
Transmen of Malaysia founder Dorian Wilde called for more sensitivity and less sensationalism by news media and bloggers when reporting on LGBT issues.
He applauded the English news portals and Chinese newspapers for their progressive stance on the issue, adding that English and Tamil newspapers were catching up too.
“However, Malay papers tend to actively shame the community, going beyond problematic language to making outrageous and defamatory statements,” he said.
Wilde urged the media to be respectful, saying there was no reason to go out of the way to insult and ridicule.
Both groups said the guidebook was not meant to provoke or alienate the media, but an attempt to improve public understanding on a usually taboo topic.
“Like racism, if we don’t talk about it, how will it be resolved?” said Wilde, adding that they would be open to dialogue with media and the public.
When contacted, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Schave Jerome De Rozario said while NUJ was open to educating reporters on gender sensitivity, having dialogues with LGBT groups would be up to it’s the Exco’s approval.
NUJ president Chin Sung Chew said they could disseminate the information to its members, but it would be up to members to use it.
He added that the editorial tone was determined by the publication’s editors not the reporters and there could be cultural resistance from some publications.
“We shouldn’t speculate whether a person is transgender or not, journalists need to go by the facts especially in court and criminal cases,” he said.
Transgender issues have long been a controversial issue in Malaysia, as a Muslim majority country which criminalised cross-dressing.
The issue had become increasingly public following transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub receiving the International Women of Courage Award and a high profile court case over the constitutionality of anti-transgender laws.