Justice for Sisters (JFS) expresses concern over the language used by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and the media in reporting the death of a 30-year-old trans woman in Tampoi, Johor.
In his statement, which was carried by Bernama and republished by local media, Johor police chief Kamarul Zaman described the deceased as a “male fully clad in women’s clothing”.
Respecting the dignity of all persons, regardless of gender identity, is a fundamental responsibility of PDRM’s duties in ensuring justice and equality.
The language used by the police and the media does not respect the dignity of the deceased, drawing unnecessary negative attention and comments during an already difficult period for the deceased’s loved ones and the transgender population at large.
We have observed misgendering, use of pejorative language and other discriminatory comments by members of the public on various social media platforms, including those of news outlets, which are not moderated.
These comments and sentiments are worrying, escalating discrimination against an already marginalised segment of the population.
When reporting on cases involving transgender people, PDRM and the media should use respectful language to avoid re-victimisation, and degrading and humiliating treatment.
In instances when the person’s gender identity is unclear and not known, gender neutral language should be used in maintaining the dignity of the deceased.
We urge both PDRM and the media to undergo gender and inclusion training to improve their service delivery and reduce discrimination against transgender people. GLAAD has prepared a Media Reference Guide for reporting on hate crimes, which is available here.
It was also reported that the trans woman’s death was classified as sudden death, although the police had yet to receive lab results. As such, we urge the police to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation before making a conclusion.
We call on Bernama, Sinar Harian, Astro Awani, and the Star to immediately rectify their respective headlines and articles.
Headlines and corrections to be made:
|News Outlet||Current Language And Suggestions|
Reproduced by Sinar Harian and Astro Awani
|Headline: Mayat lelaki berperwatakan wanita ditemukan di terowong laluan pejalan kaki di Tampoi|
1.Mayat seorang individu
2.Mayat wanita transgender
|Body: Lelaki berperwatakan wanita |
|The Star||Headline: No signs of foul play on dead man found at Johor motorcycle tunnel|
1. No signs of foul play on dead individual found at Johor motorcycle tunnel
2. No signs of foul play on dead trans woman found at Johor motorcycle tunnel
|Body: The death of a man |
1. The death of a trans woman
2. The death of an individual
Justice for Sisters is a grassroots campaign organised by concerned members of the public to raise public awareness about issues surrounding violence and persecution against the transgender community in Malaysia.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.