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Uproar over trans woman's appointment to Malaysia govt committee

KUALA LUMPUR: The appointment of a transgender woman to a Malaysian Health Ministry committee has created a stir.

Ms Rania Zara Medina, a former beauty pageant winner, was appointed to represent the transgender community as a member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) Malaysia for the 2019-2021 term.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye defended Ms Rania's appointment, saying the Cabinet had in 2009 formed CCM Malaysia with an aim to tackle HIV/ Aids via contributions from Global Fund.

"As required by Global Fund, CCM members are made up of 25 people representing stakeholders such as government agencies, NGOs, academicians and community representatives from targeted groups.

"These targeted groups include transgenders, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, drug-users and people living with HIV/ Aids," said Dr Lee.

Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad slammed the appointment, claiming LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups have gender dysphoria that goes against the values of the majority in the country.

"This culture also violates the law... It is clear the LGBT community's right to practise their lifestyle is still subject to the law, which does not allow it in Malaysia."

When asked about the issue, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he does not know if the person is transgender.

Think-tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy and the Malaysian Aids Council lauded Ms Rania's appointment as a step towards a successful HIV strategy.

"Malaysia has always had a transgender representative on its CCM. This role and burden of responsibility has been in recognition that this community is not 'a problem' but part of the solution to the country's epidemic," Galen Centre chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement yesterday. - THE STAR

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