Life histories of transpeople in Asia

Shalina Abdullah, Malaysia

uploaded 10/1/2003

Copyright Shalina Abdullah, to whom requests for reproduction and dissemination falling under copyright laws must be made

I am the eldest child of four.  Both my parents were teachers now both retired.  During my younger days, my siblings (one younger brother and two kid sisters) and I were left at home with the nanny.  So wasn't troubled with responsibilities to take care of my sibling as the nanny was living with us. 

 Mostly people would describe me as  a loner who would go for role-playing alone rather than go around and play with other kids. No matter what my parents did to get me mingle around with other I would go back to my own secret refuge. The room, where most of my granny's  dresses and outfit were kept which I love to take out from the closet and laid it on the bed , adoring it and wishing that Iím already in my adulthood so that I will be able to wear all those baju kebaya. 

If Iím not at that room I would most probably be in my mom's dressing room where I would go around parading in her blouses, skirts, all her lingeries, shoes and everything that I can get hold to.  I would also be playing with her blushers, lipstick and all her cosmetics. 

All those behaviors, were demonstrated when I was just 5. I kept on going to that room until I was 12 and it was in that room I had my first wet dream which was with the boy next door.  Since then, boys were in my mind as of in the mind of girls.  I remember once I just couldnít control my crush over a guy, I just walked up to him and gave him a peck on his cheek.  That happened when I was 12. After knowing that Iím attracted to guys and never like to be a boy myself (I detest my dad for taking me to the barber-love my mom for taking me to the hair salon), I tried just about anything to get rid of my penis. Tried to slit it with a  razor but stopped by the pain.  So then I tried my motherís traditional potion, normally used by malay married ladies to tightened their vagina (jamu), with the assumption if the jamu can make the vagina tight, I would probably shrink the little boy down below.   At the same time, I started to my own collection of lipsticks, powders and all and began my experimentation without their knowledge because the room I mentioned earlier was officially mine when I was about 13.  I remember having a queen size bed with 9 inches queensize latex mattress.  The bed had a unique design because it had a compartment at the head of it, where I kept most of the feminine goodies there. Which I bought on my own by saying that  my sister or my mother wanted it.  I had great time on my own in the room which I regarded as my world.

When I was about 13, a cousin whose parents had to go to USA came over and stayed with my family,  and he is the guy who blew the trumpet. He started calling me names, he called me sissy and taking all the things inside the compartment and showing them around.  I donít know how to describe the embarrassment because I didnít ever actually show my feminine self out of that room.  I know it was pretty obvious but they could confirm it now.  So when my cousin blew it, they really had something to work on. My parents and everyone really made my life a living hell.  The slightest smell of perfume, they immediately came knocking at my door.  Since that incident of my cousin blowing the trumpet, I still have the room but no privacy came with it.  

After that I started going out. Pretending that what they did managed to change me.   Never again I got acquainted with other sissies as I was afraid my parents will discover and they will get nastier to me.  I spent most of my time at the park alone. Only after dark I sneak back into my room which had a secret entry only known to me.  Furthermore at that time my parents were busy with I donít know what. It led them to some huge quarrel and unstability in their marriage until now.   

 It was at the park I met my first boyfriend.  He was about 60 and I was only 13.   After meeting him there a few times, he made arrangements for both of us to spend time together more often.  Then one thing led to another, he ended up renting a one room house where after school Iíd go there, change my school uniform and get into my mini skirts and make myself pretty and wait for him to come.  He usually "came back" to our home around 3pm and we would spend around 5 hrs together, living the the life of a couple. I was happy and I guess he was too.  Until now I never feel I was exploited even though some may say so. The relationship went on for about 5 years until a road accident took him away from me.  Just a day before he would fulfill his promises to me to get the SRS done for me in Thailand, and a day after he filed a divorce from his wife. I was waiting for him at our home but he never came.  Only the next day I learned about his death.

  I suffered a breakdown which later led me to drop out from school and joined the teachers training college.  Just to be far away from my parents I chose to be in Penang, where I discovered a very fascinating place and I met a lot of interesting people whom I consider as my sisters because they really influenced my way of thinking and they really taught me how to survive. They helped me out when I was short of money by letting me work in their room and they really made me think that its not worth to be miserable over his death.  Iím still young I should go around and enjoy myself.  At the beginning I was upset because I thought they donít know that I really love him.  Their argument was that a transsexual shouldnít be too ambitious and naive because the so called love wonít take us anywhere.  Since that is the story, why make love for free, get something out of it. I was reluctant at the beginning but the pressures here and there made me proceed with prostitution. While I was moonlighting there, I discovered what life is, in the alley. Police and religious authority harassment, abusive clients and everything. It did cover all my expenses in college though.

I graduated in 1993 and posted to a rural area in kelantan in the same year.   I was there for 1 year and was the subject of ridicule but one morning someone broke into my quarters and raped me.  With blood from nose, ear and visible blood stain on my pants, I rode on my bike 9km to the nearest police station. The constable, instead of taking my report, gave a disgusting look on me and said that guy committed no rape as I'm not a woman. I was so angry  but the moment I express my anger, I was laughed at and threatened to be spending my night in the lock-up.  I backed away and nursed myself to health.  What the guy who rape me then did was, every morning he would be waiting at the junction with his friends and would get physical with me until I had a breakdown again.   After the breakdown I was transferred to Perak and living nicely there. 

I really started thinking about myself again there.  Which made me decide that I want to achieve something in my life.  I decided to pursue a degree at a local university in Penang.  For the first few months life was hard again.  So I went back to the alley and began moonlighting again.  Somehow this time, my lady luck wasnít with me. I didnít complete my studies.  My conflict within got worse I cantí bear any longer the sight of my penis. I felt that I just canít live my life happily as long as I still have it with me. I began questioning this and that until I canít cope anymore and as expected I got depressed again and this time suicidal.  I tried turning myself to the religious teachers. The imams all,  instead of helping me, say that Iím living a sinful life and to be righteous I have to be a man.  Some even ask me to get married. They say marriage will help cure the disease.  Then I sought help from the private shrinks.  They are good but the only thing is the cost.  The government hospitals will treat this problem as a problem which will give the staff / doctors a good real-life comedy.  The cost per session of one hour at one of Penang's leading private hospital was about RM 80 per year in 2000 and in Kuala Lumpur as of November 2002, RM100.  

This year I am applying again to further my studies and hopefully I will succeed and this time I have already come to terms with myself.  I hope to get my bachelor degree and proceed to the highest level possible because I strongly think that I owe it to myself and the trans community.  So that  I will be an example to others both trans and non- trans that we are as good as them.  We are this way because god wanted us to be this way.  So accept us the way we are.