Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Transgender visibility still needed: advocates

Transgender visibility still needed: advocates

A participant speaks at the launch of a CCHR report on discrimination against transgender women in urban centres last year in Phnom Penh.
A participant speaks at the launch of a CCHR report on discrimination against transgender women in urban centres last year in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Transgender visibility still needed: advocates

Today marks the International Transgender Day of Visibility, an event civil society organisations say is much needed in Cambodia, where transgender men and women face daily discrimination.

Say Seaklay, an advocacy officer at LGBT-rights NGO Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) and himself a transgender man, said acceptance was low in Cambodia and discrimination occurred in everyday life: in schools, at the workplace, in local communities.

One of the most prominent examples of discrimination, he recounted, was when he got fired from his internship at a local NGO working in the development sector about three years ago because they found out that he was transgender.

“They just stopped me from working there,” he said. “They said they used to have experience in working with transgenders, and they think transgenders cannot work for that organisation.”

Meanwhile, he said his neighbours “think the LGBT [people] decrease the population ... They always say ‘you should marry a man and have a child’.”

While he was “very grateful” that the government had been “very supportive of the transgender community” and transgender visibility had increased over the past year in media and the public, he said the government could still do more.

He argued the government should offer services such as hormone treatment to accommodate the needs of some transgender people. Em Chan Makara, a Ministry of Social Affairs spokesman, said his ministry should write guidelines to combat discrimination, but that research was needed first.

He acknowledged, however, that his ministry so far had no plans to conduct such research. He explained that he believed transgenderism was either caused by karma or by food.

“Today, the food can have a lot of chemicals … When pregnant mothers have a baby, they can eat something [that causes it],” he said.

He added that one of his relatives, Em Tit, was also a transgender man. Tit yesterday said that his family was not happy when he told them that he was transgender, but that he kept trying to explain what he felt.

“For now, my mum, she opened [her] heart with me,” he said, but added that his family’s friends often looked down on him. But, he said, “I don’t care.”

“Nowadays I have my own business and I can make my dream come true.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement