On Friday 7 November last year after a long legal battle, three Malaysian trans women secured a historic victory as a Federal Appeals court ruled that a state Islamic law criminalising trans-women is unconstitutional.
Malaysia has a two-track legal system with separate Islamic laws on civil matters only decided by the conservative religious ministry which apply only to the Muslim population.
The Federal Appeals court ruled that the Islamic law in the southern state of Negri Sembilan under which ‘a man dressing as woman’ could be punishable by up to three years imprisonment, breached the constitution. Despite many discriminatory laws still in place across the country and with the government set to launch its own challenge to ruling, activists have celebrated the ruling as a legal precedent.
Archer caught up with Thilaga, who wanted to only go by one name, from the grassroots trans-rights organisation Justice for Sisters who organised the case.