Transgressive empowerment: queering the spiritualities of the Maknyahs of PT foundation

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The male-to-female transsexuals of Malaysia are referred to as mak nyahs, a traditionally pejorative term that has been reappropriated with empowering repercussions (Khartini 2005). Yik Koon Teh, a Malaysian academician, and Khartini Slamah, a Malaysian mak nyah activist, employ the term “mak nyah” to denote male-to-female transsexuals, irrespective of their decision to remove or maintain their genital appendages (see Khartini 2005, 99; te h 2008, 85). PT Foundation, a community-based nongovernmental organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, established a Mak Nyah Program1 in 1992 to foster issues of self-empowerment, human rights, and personal development in addition to health concerns related to HIV and sexually transmitted infections (PT Foundation 2014). The mak nyahs are not only the privileged recipients of such a program. Being a community-based organization, the manager and outreach workers of this program are mak nyahs. There is a definitive force among those involved in the Mak Nyah Program that fuels them in overcoming discrimination, stigmatization, and rejection and propels them to reach out to their peers with tenacity, a force that I posit as mak nyah spiritualities. My reference to spiritualities denotes a profound sense of self-acceptance, self-empowerment, clarity, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, integration, and connectedness (Boswell and Boswell-Ford 2010). spirituality may be understood in one sense as a wholesome approach to life that incites and drives the meaning-making of human existence, which may or may not involve an adherence to organized religion or the concept of a personal divine being, although overlaps frequently occur.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQueering Migrations Towards, From, and Beyond Asia
EditorsHugo Cordova Quero, Joseph N Goh, Michael Sepidoza Campos
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781137447739
ISBN (Print)9781137447722
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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