At Penang assembly, reps fight for rights of transgender community

By Opalyn Mok
Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu and Penang transgender committee members Cheah Kah Peng (far left) and Lee Khai Loon (centre). — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 10 — A group of Penang lawmakers today submitted an official letter to the State Constitutional Committee for the findings on transgender rights to become an official paper in the state legislative assembly.

The state transgender committee chairman Teh Yee Cheu said there were recommendations from a transgender symposium on transgender rights that he wanted to submit as an official paper in the state assembly.

“We debated about this in the state assembly and the House told us to submit a letter to the constitutional committee,” he said.

He said the findings from the symposium was on transgender people’s rights such as access to medical facilities, gender neutral public toilets and issues with enforcement officers such as the police.

Teh said it is important that the findings from the symposium are officially accepted by the legislature as it can be used as a reference in future.

“It can serve as a record of what the symposium highlighted on issues faced by transgender,” he told reporters during break at the legislative assembly.

A few transgender symposiums were held last year and another three this year.

Teh said the findings from the symposiums were compiled and submitted to the constitutional committee for it to become an official paper in the legislature.

The transgender committee, formed in 2014, consisted of both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional assemblymen.

PKR’s Lee Khai Loon is the committee’s secretary while Cheah Kah Peng is its treasurer.

Cheah said the findings from the symposium are important as it involved the fundamentals of human rights.

“Penang can also lead in this by recognising the rights of the transgender community,” he said.

He said it is important to push for an understanding and acknowledgement on the rights of the community as it is also basic human rights.

Cheah added that presenting the findings in the state legislature is an important step to push for the community’s rights.