Life might not be easy for her back home (okay, it’s plenty hard back home) but for Malaysian transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub, there’ll always be a parade waiting for her in sunny San Diego, USA, every April 5.
Nisha, who just a week ago was feted by US state secretary John Kerry and was given the International Women of Courage Award for her fine work championing LGBT causes in Malaysia, now has her very own day of celebration – and on her birthday, too!
The Star Online reports that San Diego mayor Kevin L Faulconer made the proclamation, while praising Nisha for her contributions to fighting for transgender rights.
Nisha herself took to her personal Facebook account to express her disbelief and gratitude over the acknowledgment.In her post, she also mentioned that in addition to having a major US city giving her a day in her honour (we can’t stress this enough), she was also awarded the Jose Julio Sarria Civil Rights Award from San Diego’s city commissioner, another trophy from the San Diego Diplomacy Council … and a birthday cake.
Despite all the accolades, it’s doubtful that Nisha will ever forget her struggles for LGBT rights in Malaysia. In 2005, she was thrown into a male prison for the crime of dressing up as a woman. She was sexually assaulted while incarcerated.
And let’s not forget the troubles trans women in KL still face, even after one of their own has been given a pat on the back by the US State Department: on Sunday night, a beauty pageant-themed dinner event organised by trans women in a KL hotel was raided by the Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI) for violating a 1996 fatwa forbidding Muslim women from participating in beauty contests.
Still no word on whether or not JAWI at least considers trans women “women”.
But for now: congratulations, Nisha!