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Racist pride and prejudice

THE transvestites involved in the Bachok beauty pageant have finally been sentenced in the Kelantan Syariah Court.

One of them, a teacher, was not only found guilty for dressing as a woman, but was transferred from his job posting.

It was bad enough that he had to pay a RM1,000 bond to the Kelantan Syariah Court, but to then be transferred to a so-called “administrative post”? I can perhaps understand the need to pull the poor fellow away from public scrutiny. But I cannot understand the rationale of education director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom in deciding the transfer.

As reported in The Star: “Education director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom said transvestite teachers were not suitable for the job. Teachers, he said, had to be good role models for their students.”

So, transvestite teachers are unsuitable to teach and are bad role models? Funny, I always thought “Miss” J Alexander is a wonderful teacher for models aspiring to work the runway in America’s Next Top Model.

Clarifying sexual identities

There seems to be some confusion between what “transsexual” and “transvestite” mean. To clarify, transsexuals are people who feel compellingly that their real gender identity does not conform to the physiological or biological sex they were born with. Someone born with female genitalia but feels compellingly male is a transsexual, or, more accurately, a trans-man. Transvestites are people who merely like dressing up in clothing commonly associated with the “opposite” gender. They generally do not feel a compelling need to change their physiological sex.

The targeting of teachers not conforming to gender stereotypes is not new. Take the 1998 case of Scott Hendricks. A teacher in Connecticut in the US, Hendricks was given early retirement by the school officials simply because he was about to become a “she” and wanted to change his name to “Michelle”. But one parent protested the school board’s trans-phobia, saying, “I send my daughter to learn, not to judge!”

Do we send kids to school to study and be proud of who they are, or to be prejudiced and hateful through miseducation? If we’re promoting real learning in our schools, shouldn’t we also promote messages of harmony and acceptance of others, regardless of race, politics, religion, gender, and even sexual orientation?

Instead of chastising the teacher for being a transvestite, Alimuddin should have looked into the quality of his professional performance as a teacher. What did the students have to say about the way he taught, instead of the way he dressed in his personal time?

Unlearning hatred?

Although this case made me angry, another case made me want to vomit. Apparently teachers are getting more and more violent towards Indian Malaysian school kids. According to this report in The Star:

“R. Sathasnam, 52, said he and another parent had complained to the school’s administration repeatedly, but the abuses continued.

“He alleged that these five teachers regularly hit the students and told them to transfer out of the school, as they (the teachers) were ‘fed up of seeing their faces’.

“‘One of the teachers called some Indian students derogatory names,’ alleged Sathasnam.”

I wonder what actions were taken against these teachers?

On one hand, we have a teacher who happened to dress in drag in his personal time and entered a beauty pageant. No violent behaviour was reported from this teacher. On the other, we have a growing bunch of teachers using racial slurs and physical violence to the point that police reports were filed and medical aid from a hospital was required.

If the beauty-pageant teacher was fined RM1,000 and transferred to an “administrative post”, then I think these violent teachers should be charged with assault and battery.

Better yet, since their actions were threatening the racial harmony of this country, what better punishment to use than the Internal Security Act (ISA)? Why not? I think it’s only fair. A teacher’s job is to educate people. So, by example, they are indirectly teaching racism and condoning physical violence. I personally consider their actions as a threat to national security, more so than a reporter doing her duty or a blogger writing pieces I seldom agree with.

No matter whether a teacher is a closeted drag queen, a sex addict, or even a chain-smoking lalang who supports the ISA, it does not matter. These personal preferences or traits should just not affect the quality of his or her teaching and the well-being of the students. Unfortunately, I can only conclude that our educators and education administrators get away with racist pride and prejudice.

Ahmad Hafidz Baharom is a paradox. He’s an anti-smoking chain smoker, an environmentalist who leaves his office lights on, a centrist who’s a lalang, and a twentysomething yuppie who dreams of being a slacker. Basically, he’s a lovable moron.

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