KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — The High Court dismissed today a male transgender’s application to change his identity card details to reflect his new gender status as a woman, citing past precedent in its ruling.
In her ruling, High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad said she has no choice but to dismiss Vasudevan Ramoo’s application to be recognised as a female by the National Registration Department (NRD)’s director-general.
She added that her hands were “tied” as she was bound by other UK cases and a 2013 Court of Appeal decision.
“By virtue of case law, the plaintiff has failed to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is now a female, in order to compel the defendant to change his name to his new name,” the judge said.
Asmabi noted that the National Registration Department had in 2007 issued a circular stating that an individual has to obtain a court declaration that he is a female, if a gender status change in the identity card was desired.
But the judge noted that Vasudevan has to first prove the four factors of chromosomal, gonadal, genital and psychological, in order for the court to determine if the applicant is a male or female.
The two medical reports presented by Vasudevan as evidence did not show that all four factors were fulfilled, Asmabi said, noting that they did not record the carrying out of medical procedures like penactomy, vaginoplasty and breast and buttock enlargement.
“If you check the two reports, very skeletal and the court is not able to determine if the plaintiff is a male or female just by looking at these two reports,” the judge said.
The judge was referring to a report on Vasudevan’s gender reassignment surgery in Thailand in 2012 and another report of a physical examination in Hospital Kuala Lumpur that determined that no male secondary sex characteristics were observed.
The judge was applying the legal precedent of the Court of Appeal’s 2013 decision in the Kristie Chan v National Registration Department Director-general case, which adopted the position in UK case Corbett v Corbett (1970) and the UK case Bellinger v Bellinger (2003).
Asmabi voiced her sympathy for Vasudevan's case and said she could not read over and above the current legal position in Malaysia.
The judge dismissed the application and ordered costs of RM3,000 to be paid by Vasudevan, whose lawyer had asked for a lesser amount than the RM6,000 sought by the Attorney-General's Chambers for the work done.
Vasudevan, 25, had through a July 2014 originating summons, sought two court orders, including a declaration from the court that he had undergone a gender reassignment surgery and is now a female.
Vasudevan also wanted an order directing the NRD director for a name change to Maha Lakshmi Ramoo in the identity card and a change in the card’s last four digits to an even number to reflect her new gender status as a female.
When asked today if his client will appeal, Vasudevan’s lawyer P. Muniswer said: “Not sure yet, haven’t got the instruction yet.”
Vasudevan, who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder, was not present in court today. Senior federal counsel Maisarah Jauhari represented the NRD director.