Written by Rafidah Abdul Aziz
Transgender people refer to a group of people that has a gender expression or identity, which differs from the actual or assigned sex. This situation will results in gender dysphoria (GD) or gender identity disorder (GID), a strong negative feeling triggered by disconnecting feelings between a person’s gender and how that person perceives themselves. Anti-discrimination laws in most countries do not protect transgender people from discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Consequently, transgender people in most cities and states faced discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives.
Local Media – Utusan Malaysia
The paper is recognized as Malaysia’s only broadsheet newspaper in a national language, even when all of other newspaper changed their format into tabloid. It has over 32 pages of news and current affairs, with regular supplements, which focused in such diverse topics as entertainment, fashion, music, health, technology and politics.
International Media – The Herald
It was known as Evening Herald on November 2000, until it changed its name to The Herald on 2013. The Herald as it is commonly known today is a national newspaper owned by the Irish Independent Group of newspapers and has continued since 1891 to have a nationwide circulation although the paper is heavily associated with Dublin.
Transgender people in Ireland got their right and legal recognition of their status after Gender Recognition Act was passed that allow them to change their legal gender with no medical or state intervention. However, the right to choose legal gender is not ‘applicable’ in Malaysia. There is no law or legal protection to transgender people. Malaysia did not allowed the influence of western socio-cultural views and practices on various aspects of life and on the intellectual engagement with world cultures and religion.
It can be seen that western media, such as The Herald, is promoting the transgender people, because it is the new culture that happens today. It is a new way of life, a new acceptance of the group of people. These characters are usually looked as funny, cute and endearing. Even though there are acceptances in Malaysia towards transgender people, still, this group of people undergoes extreme levels of stigmatisation and discrimination, especially in media reporting. Utusan Malaysia for instance, did not give positive highlight, or news that back up the transgender. Utusan Malaysia, as the main reading material for Malay and Muslim, they have to put the transgender issue as negative as it is the way of life that is prohibited in Islam.
Based on Malaysia’s media context, there are many negative consequences arises from LGBT portrayal in the media. As compared to Western media, they want to bring more acceptance of this group of people.