Transgenderism a treatable insanity, claims counsel in Shariah law review

Iskandar Ali Dewa

(Malay Mail Online) – Transgenderism is a curable “psychological condition” that does not preclude those with the disorder from being subject to Shariah law, Negri Sembilan’s state legal adviser asserted in a judicial review of a state enactment that criminalises cross-dressing today.

He also told the Court of Appeal here that there is a simple solution to the allege harassment and arrests that the community faces regularly: force transgenders to dress “like they are supposed to”.

“Just because people have a medical condition, mental health disorder, doesn’t mean that they’re not subject to a law,” said Iskandar Ali Dewa, the lead counsel for the respondents that include the Negri Sembilan state government, state religious authority and its officers.

According to Iskandar, transgenders can already defend themselves under Section 11 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992 by pleading insanity.

But his offered solution drew criticism from the panel of judges, who also expressed scepticism at the lawyer’s earlier psychiatric analysis.

“I think that’s a far-fetched interpretation of ‘insanity’ … I’m still trying to recover from your claim,” said Justice Datuk Mohd Hishammuddin Mohd Yunus afterwards, who chaired the three-man bench.

Iskandar said Section 66 that outlaws cross-dressing does not deprive transgenders of their fundamental liberties, since they “have no right to dress as female” in the first place.

He also claimed that transgenders are exacerbating their condition instead of “curing” themselves, by cross-dressing and undergoing hormone treatments.

But he failed to provide any medical evidence to support any of his claims, leading to a rebuke from the judges.