We argue that transgender rights stem from human rights, i.e., those fundamental rights belonging to every person. Persons with either cisgender (in which assigned and experienced gender are the same) or transgender identities deserve to live and flourish in their communities—with freedom to learn, work, love, and play—and build lives connected with others at home, in the workplace, and in public settings without fear for their safety and survival. These deeply personal decisions are and should be the prerogative of the individual and deserve the law’s protection.
Malaysia protects religious freedom in the Perlembagaan Persekutuan 1948, and religion is quintessentially a choice. We owe the same respect to all members of our communities.
We don’t yet know if gender identity emerges from genes, hormones, environmental factors or, most likely, an intricate combination of all these factors and more. It is unlikely that people with a transgender identity simply choose their gender identity, any more than cisgender people do.
However, it is crucial that associated choices about the expression of gender—affecting vital aspects of identity in school, the workplace, and the community—are supported by our laws and policies. Supporters of transgender rights should avoid arguments that are logically flawed and that fail to acknowledge current scientific evidence about gender identity. Our best arguments must rely on the concept of inalienable human rights, including the rights to live safely, freely, and without fear of discrimination.