Indian transgender woman unable to secure Malaysian visa, told to change gender to ‘male’

Shane Anthony Mills via Twitter
Shane Anthony Mills via Twitter

A transgender senior level IT worker from Hyderabad, India, has said she is doubtful she will be able to make the journey to a conference in Penang, Malaysia, due to there being no appropriate gender option on Malaysian visa forms.

Her Indian passport indicates that she is a transgender woman; however, forms on Malaysia’s e-visa filing site only offer male and female options.

Shane Anthony Mills, 34-year-old IT professional and transgender activist, had been selected by her company to represent India at the Employee Resource Group (ERG) summit run by Dell in Penang, on Jan. 28.

A timeline of her tweets follows her exasperation that none of the relevant authorities, nor any embassies in India, will help her.

An Indian NGO, jhatkaa.org is now petitioning India’s Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, for assistance. The group has highlighted that while Shane’s passport states she is a transgender woman, the Malaysian consulate in Chennai asked her to change her gender to male as a solution.

After India’s historic move to allow transgender an an optional legal status on documents, Shane sees it as an affront to ask for her to change it back to male.

“I had to go through so much — from a sex change operation, to getting my paperwork in place — to finally be able to change my gender on my passport after the 2014 Supreme Court verdict. To be told to go back and change my gender to ‘male’ feels humiliating,” she told the Times of India earlier this week.

Tweeting to the minister, she explained:

Ms. Mills is running on borrowed time — she explained that her flight tickets to the conference were booked for tomorrow.

Speaking earlier this week to the Times of India, Shane told them:

“I have written to Sushma Swaraj on Twitter, seeking her intervention. I have seen her come out and help numerous Indians stuck in foreign lands. I hope she will come to the help of an Indian transgender as well. After all, I am not going to Malaysia on holiday; I will be representing my country at the summit.”

After two days of phone calls, Shane is disheartened, saying that instead of anyone taking up the issue, she is merely redirected to other authorities.

Her colleagues at Dell Malaysia have also been unsuccessful in their efforts to secure Shane a visa.

“I am really disappointed that there is no ‘other’ option in the gender column,” she said.

Malaysia has had a recently tenuous relationship with LGBTQ+ rights, from savage beatings and murders of transgendered women, to the whipping of two women for alleged lesbian sex, to the removal of portraits of community leaders in a photo exhibition — many members of the LGBTQ+ community are disappointed with the current government’s antediluvian policies.

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