Saturday, July 30, 2011

Malaysian transgender Mohd Ashraf / Aleesha Farhana dies

This is a sad and tragic story of a Malaysian who wanted to change his gender status from male to female but died shortly after a Malaysian High Court rejected his application.

Mohd Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz, 25, who failed in his bid to change his name to Aleesha Farhana after undergoing a sex change operation in Thailand, has died at the intensive care unit of Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia at 5 am on Saturday 30th July 2011.

Ashraf / Aleesha was admitted to the hospital at 3am on Friday, 29 July 2011 after experiencing heart problems and low blood pressure.

Doctors at the hospital said that Ashraf / Aleesha was suffering from unstable angina with cardiogenic shock.

Mohd Ashraf Hafiz or Aleesha Farhana, 25, had applied to the Kuala Terengganu High Court for an order to change his name and gender after undergoing sex change operation in Thailand in 2009 but it was rejected on July 18, 2011.

Ashraf / Aleesha was devastated by the verdict.

Ashraf / Aleesha’s depression was obvious and mentioned that he’d rather die fighting to change his name in his Identity Card and he was determined to make an appeal on the decision.

The case received huge media attention and was closely followed by Malaysians because it was a very rare case in Malaysia.

Friends and relatives attended his funeral at the Seberang Takir Muslim cemetery at 4.45pm on Saturday, 30th July 2011.

Ashraf/Aleesha's parents doing the final rites after the burial.

Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that she was deeply saddened that her ministry was not able to provide counselling in time to Mohd Ashraf / Aleesha Farhana.

Shahrizat said her ministry from early on had offered to provide counselling to Mohd Ashraf / Aleesha Farhana but now fate had intervened.

“We were concerned about his wellbeing. My ministry is welfare-oriented and we are non-judgemental.

“We try to understand and counsel anyone who needs our help, especially people who feel desperate like in the case of Ashraf, but for him, it is too late now,” Shahrizat said.

Shahrizat also extended her condolences to Mohd Ashraf's family and hoped they would remain strong in this difficult time.

“If the family needs any help they can contact me or the nearest Welfare Department office,” she said.

Malaysia's New Straits Times reported on July 22, 2011 that Ashraf / Aleesha was looking forward to meeting Shahrizat after she offered to help him through her ministry.

On July 20th 2011, Shahrizat said everyone should find ways to help Ashraf instead of condemning him.

In the end, Ashraf / Aleesha never got to meet the minister.

Ashraf / Aleesha's mother known as Mak Yah said she hoped public condemnation of her family would end with the death of Ashraf / Aleesha.

"All the hype about him might have been a boon for the media but it did nothing for us," she said, adding that Ashraf / Aleesha was very depressed over the negative stories about him.

Ashraf / Aleesha's father, Abdul Aziz Ahmad, 60, held a press conference at Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital mortuary after his son's autopsy was completed at 3.30pm on Saturday 30th July 2011. He accepted Ashraf's death as fate.

He said Ashraf / Aleesha had been acting peculiarly since a few weeks ago.

"He asked a relative to sew a baju kurung for Hari Raya Aidilfitri about two weeks ago.

"The relative was shocked as he wanted the dress to be completed immediately," he said, adding that Ashraf was happy when the dress was completed in about a week.

"Upon collecting it, he was very excited to celebrate Hari Raya, as the baju came with the sequins he requested,"

Aziz said Ashraf often uttered "Raya tak sempat, renew lesen kereta tak sempat" (I will not make it for Hari Raya, I will not be able to renew my driving licence).

"I did not know that it was a sign that he would be leaving us forever," he said, adding that Ashraf succumbed to low blood pressure, a condition he had been suffering from since childhood.

Since Ashraf / Aleesha was small, Mak Yah had seen the strong feminine side in her son who was born in 1985.

But what can a mother do to stop the natural urge that was beginning to get stronger. Ashraf / Aleesha grew up with an even more obvious femininity.

Abdul Aziz, in the other hand told that he had never face any problems to discipline his kids. But with Ashraf, he admitted that he couldn’t find a way to stop Ashraf’s behavior.

In his teenage years, his father told that his son wasn’t rasping like how normal teenage boys would be when they reach puberty.

Ashraf even sways like a woman. Making Abdul Aziz even more concerned.

“His brother did cut his hair like this army style, but we still see him as a woman, the only difference was that he had a much shorter hair,” he said.

His father added, no matter what the whole family did to him, Ashraf / Aleesha was ever strong with his feminine side.

Regarding his career, according to Mak Yah, she understood that her son worked at Putrajaya, but she didn’t really tell what Ashraf’s real job was.

Behind Mak Yah and Abdul Aziz’s knowledge, Ashraf, who has a diploma in medical field had gone through medical and hormone test at Kuala Lumpur Pantai Medical Centre somewhere around 2007 and he was qualified to change his gender.

The peak of ‘femininity process’ for Ashraf happened when both his parents went to Mecca to perform haj in 2009, he then took matters into his own hands by going through sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in one of the hospitals in Thailand without informing his parents.

Although the surgery did satisfy Ashraf / Aleesha, he faced his parents’ wrath and fury who reacted by burning all of his female attires and chased him away.

According to Mak Yah, despite being chased away, Ashraf / Aleesha still went back to his parents, but he only dared to sleep in the car.

Despite being exiled by the family, Ashraf / Aleesha was ever determined to become a woman by filing a petition to the Terengganu High Court on May 15, 2011.

Changing his gender from male to female and changing his name from Mohd Ashraf Hafiz to ‘Aleesha Farhana’, was to ensure that he/she lives normally in daily life without hassles.

The application was also to facilitate Ashraf / Aleesha's entry into a local university to further his / her studies.

Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil was planned at 8pm Saturday, 30th July 2011 by Seksualiti Merdeka in front of the Bar Council at Lebuh Pasar Besar.

May Mohd Ashraf Hafiz is forgiven by Allah S.W.T and may God bless his soul. Al-Fatihah. Rest in Peace Ashraf / Aleesha.

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