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Mak Nyahs (Male Transsexuals) in Malaysia: The Influence of Culture and Religion on their Identity

By Yik Koon Teh

Abstract

This paper discusses a study of male transsexuals in Malaysia, known locally as mak nyahs. This detailed study, funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, involved the use of questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaire for the mak nyahs, which consisted of 142 questions, was divided into three parts: a) the social aspect; b) HIV/AIDS knowledge; and c) related health issues. In addition to questionnaires, interviews were carried out with some of the mak nyahs as well as with the relevant authorities.

This paper looks into the social aspect of transsexualism in Malaysia. The questions in this section of the questionnaire were derived from studies undertaken in the West. The writer found that transsexuals in Malaysia have many characteristics similar to those from other parts of the world. However, the identity of the mak nyahs in Malaysia is influenced by cultural and religious factors. The definition and identity of male transsexuals in Malaysia may differ in some ways from those in other parts of the world.

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