Danisha has lost many friends to HIV. She was a showgirl in Penang in her youth, and got introduced and subsequently addicted to drugs. At her lowest point, she attempted suicide – twice – because of the double stigma of not only being a drug user but a transgender too. “I lost my house, the bank repossessed my car, I lost everything,” she recalled, “I would’ve either died homeless in backlanes or behind bars”.
Eventually, she checked into a rehab centre in KOMITED Pahang, where she was treated with much love and respect. 10 years later, she’s clean, and went back to help form ‘Casa Femina’, a rehab home exclusively for transgender women and continues to work in NGOs.
She has high hopes for the transgender community here. She knows acceptance is “too big a word, so just be tolerant, and that will do. We don’t want sympathy, but empathy. There’s always hope in Malaysia.”
ISO: 320 | Aperture: f/2.2 | Shutter: 1/17s