A high court in conservative eastern Terengganu state ruled that a person’s sex was determined at birth so Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz, who was born a man, could not change the name on her identity card, her lawyer said.
"I fear for her… the difficulties she is going to face daily," lawyer Horley Isaacs told AFP. "What is this person going to do now? Can she go to a man’s toilet?"
Isaacs said Ashraf Hafiz, a 25-year-old former pharmaceutical assistant, was born with an abnormally small penis and underwent a full sex-change operation in neighbouring Thailand in 2008.
Isaacs said her family supported Ashraf Hafiz’s application to change her name on her identity card to Aleeshya Farhana, but the National Registration Department had rejected it.
"According to her mother, right from when she was a child her characteristics were feminine. She was all prim and proper," he said.
Isaacs said in recent years only two other transsexuals have filed court petitions to be allowed name changes. One of the applicants, in 2005, was successful.
Transsexuals and other transgendered people face daily discrimination and harassment in Malaysia and many of them are forced to earn their living as sex workers because they cannot get any other job.