Transgender Individuals in Asian Islamic Countries: An Overview of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Issues in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia



Workplaces are an important dimension of social life and for helping individuals to satisfy their intrinsic needs for acceptance and belonging. In a society where gender roles are already askew, transgender individuals face particular challenges. Such challenges have been underemphasized in the diversity management literature. In this chapter we discuss empirical evidence of transgender issues and how they are perceived in Asian countries, particularly Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. In addition, we outline the specific challenges faced by transgender individuals in the context of constitutional precincts, religious perceptions, and socio-economic circumstances. We argue and find that regulators, social actors and institutions in Asian Islamic countries de-emphasize the gender criteria when hiring, as well as in commonplace operations, to enrich the institutional human capital and, ultimately, work performance. We develop a future research agenda for informing individuals, organizational leaders, and policy makers concerning transgender issues.


Transgender Asia Islam Pakistan Bangladesh Malaysia 


  1. Abbas, T., Nawaz, Y., Ali, M., Hussain, N., & Nawaz, R. (2014). Social adjustment of transgender: A study of District Chiniot, Punjab (Pakistan). Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 3(1), 61–71.Google Scholar
  2. Abdullah, M. A., Basharat, Z., Kamal, B., Sattar, N. Y., Hassan, Z. F., Jan, A. D., & Shafqat, A. (2012). Is social exclusion pushing the Pakistani Hijras (Transgenders) towards commercial sex work? A qualitative study. BMC International Health and Human rights, 12(32), 1–9.Google Scholar
  3. Agius, S. (2013). Third gender: A step toward ending intersex discrimination. Spiegel Online International. Accessed February 12, 2015, from
  4. Anzar, U. (2003). Islamic education: A brief history of Madrassas with comments on curricula and current pedagogical practices. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  5. BBC. (2009, December 23). Pakistani eunuchs to have distinct gender. Accessed February 20, 2015, from
  6. Bonoli, G., & Hinrichs, K. (2012). Statistical discrimination and employers’ recruitment: Practices for low-skilled workers. European Societies, 14(3), 338–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cáceres, C., Konda, K., Pecheny, M., Chatterjee, A., & Lyerla, R. (2006). Estimating the number of men who have sex with men in low and middle income countries. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 82(suppl 3), iii3–iii9.Google Scholar
  8. Case, L. K., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2012). Alternating gender incongruity: A new neuropsychiatric syndrome providing insight into the dynamic plasticity of brain-sex. Medical Hypotheses, 78(5), 626–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cserni, R. T., & Talmud, I. (2015). To know that you are not alone: The effect of internet usage on LGBT youth’s social capital. Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications), 9, 161–182.Google Scholar
  10. Elk, R., & Boehmer, U. (2015). The challenges remain: Needed next steps in alleviating the burden of cancer in the LGBT community. In R. Elk & U. Boehmer (Eds.), Cancer and the LGBT community (pp. 313–328). Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faulkner, W. (2000). The power and the pleasure? A research agenda for “making gender stick” to engineers. Science, Technology and Human Values, 25(1), 87–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fielden, S. L., Davidson, M. J., Gale, A. W., & Davey, C. L. (2000). Women in construction: The untapped resource. Construction Management and Economics, 18(1), 113–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gagné, P., Tewksbury, R., & McGaughey, D. (1997). Coming out and crossing over identity formation and proclamation in a transgender community. Gender and Society, 11(4), 478–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gorman, E. H. (2005). Gender stereotypes, same-gender preferences, and organizational variation in the hiring of women: Evidence from law firms. American Sociological Review, 70(4), 702–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gurney, J. N. (1985). Not one of the guys: The female researcher in a male-dominated setting. Qualitative Sociology, 8(1), 42–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall, C. (2009). Sticks and stones may break my bones but will the law ever protect me: Ensuring educational access through federal prohibition of peer-on-peer harassment. Children’s Legal Rights Journal, 29, 42.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, S., Winlow, S., & Ancrum, C. (2013). Criminal identities consumer culture: Crime, exclusion and the new culture of narcissm. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Harrison, L. A., & Lynch, A. B. (2005). Social role theory and the perceived gender role orientation of athletes. Sex Roles, 52(3–4), 227–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Himsel, A. J., & Goldberg, W. A. (2003). Social comparisons and satisfaction with the division of housework implications for men’s and women’s role strain. Journal of Family Issues, 24(7), 843–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huebner, D. M., Rebchook, G. M., & Kegeles, S. M. (2004). Experiences of harassment, discrimination, and physical violence among young gay and bisexual men. American Journal of Public Health, 94(7), 1200–1203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. ICDDRB. (2008). Disentangling inequities in Bangladesh: A social exclusion and health analysis. Background Paper for Social Exclusion Knowledge Network, 11, 3–6.Google Scholar
  22. Inzlicht, M., & Gutsell, J. N. (2007). Running on empty neural signals for self-control failure. Psychological Science, 18(11), 933–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Inzlicht, M., McKay, L., & Aronson, J. (2006). Stigma as ego depletion: How being the target of prejudice affects self-control. Psychological Science, 17(3), 262–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ishak, M. S. B. H., & Haneef, S. S. S. (2014). Sex reassignment technology: The dilemma of transsexuals in Islam and Christianity. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(2), 520–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karim, L. (2004). Democratizing Bangladesh State, NGOs, and Militant Islam. Cultural Dynamics, 16(2–3), 291–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelleher, C. (2009). Minority stress and health: Implications for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22(4), 373–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kenagy, G. P. (2005). Transgender health: Findings from two needs assessment studies in Philadelphia. Health and Social Work, 30(1), 19–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Khairuddin, Y., Low, W. Y., & Wong, Y. L. (1987). Social and health review of transsexuals. Unpublished paper presented at the Seminar mak nyah ke arah menentukan identiti dan status mak nyah dalam masyarakat. Law Faculty, Universiti MalayaGoogle Scholar
  29. Khaleeli, H. (2014). Hijra: India’s third gender claims its place in law. The Guardian. Accessed April 20, 2015, from
  30. Khan, S. I., Hussain, M. I., Parveen, S., Bhuiyan, M. I., Gourab, G., et al. (2009). Living on the extreme margin: Social exclusion of the transgender population (hijra) in Bangladesh. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 27(4), 441–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lal, V. (1999). Not this, not that: The hijras of India and the cultural politics of sexuality. Social Text, 61(4), 119–140.Google Scholar
  32. Lerum, K. (2009). India officially recognizes third sex/gender. The Society Pages. Accessed March 2, 2015, from
  33. Looy, H., & Bouma, H. (2005). The nature of gender: Gender identity in persons who are intersexed or transgendered. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(3), 166–178.Google Scholar
  34. Lopuch, V. S., & Davis, D. C. (2014). The role and value of diversity to learning organizations and innovation. In N. D. Erbe (Ed.), Approaches to managing organizational diversity and innovation (pp. 213–236). Hershey: IGI Global.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Low, W. (2009). Malaysian youth sexuality: Issues and challenges. Journal of the University of Malaya Medical Centre, 12(1), 3–14.Google Scholar
  36. Lynn, W. E. (2005, February 1). Neither here nor there: The legal dilemma of the transsexual community in Malaysia. The Malaysian Bar. Accessed May 10, 2015, from
  37. Malaysiakini. (2012). Najib: No place in Malaysia for LGBTs. Accessed April 15, 2015, from
  38. Meyer, I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36(1), 38–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moyeen, A., & West, B. (2014). Promoting CSR to foster sustainable development: Attitudes and perceptions of managers in a developing country. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, 6(2), 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Murrell, A. J., Forte-Trammell, S., & Bing, D. (2008). Intelligent mentoring: How IBM creates value through people, knowledge, and relationships. Armonk: IBM Press.Google Scholar
  41. Nanda, S. (1986). The Hijras of India: Cultural and individual dimensions of an institutionalized third gender role. Journal of Homosexuality, 11(3–4), 35–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Neal, C., & Davies, D. (2000). Issues in therapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ng, E. (2011, July 19). Malay transsexual loses court bid to change gender. Yahoo News. Accessed May 25, 2015, from
  44. O’Flaherty, M., & Fisher, J. (2008). Sexual orientation, gender identity and international human rights law: Contextualising the Yogyakarta Principles. Human Rights Law Review, 8(2), 207–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. O’Halloran, K. (2015). The adoption process in an Islamic context. The Politics of Adoption, 603–635. Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  46. Owoyemi, M. Y., & Sabri, A. Z. S. A. (2013). LGBT; nature or ideology: The view of a former LGBT Practitioner in Malaysia. Research Journal of Biological Sciences, 8(4), 104–111.Google Scholar
  47. Parkes, T., Welch, C., Besla, K., Leavitt, S., Ziegler, M., et al. (2007). Freedom from violence: Tools for working with trauma, mental health and substance use: Resource tool kit. Vancouver: Ending Violence Association of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  48. Peletz, M. G. (2002). Islamic modern: Religious courts and cultural politics in Malaysia. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Poteat, T., German, D., & Kerrigan, D. (2013). Managing uncertainty: A grounded theory of stigma in transgender health care encounters. Social Science and Medicine, 84, 22–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Riccò, R., & Guerci, M. (2014). Diversity challenge: An integrated process to bridge the “implementation gap”. Business Horizons, 57(2), 235–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Roland, D., & Kahrl, H. F. (2011). Economic modeling study: Exploring an innovative market scheme. California: Berkeley Economic Advising and Research.Google Scholar
  52. Rothe, A. (2011). Popular trauma culture: Selling the pain of others in the mass media. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Rumbach, J., & Knight, K. (2014). Sexual and gender minorities in humanitarian emergencies. In L. W. Roeder (Ed.), Issues of gender and sexual orientation in humanitarian emergencies (pp. 33–74). Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  54. Sabri, A. Z. S. A., Owoyemi, M. Y., & Mangsor, F. (2014). Leading by example: Causes and treatment by an experienced LGBT counsellor. International Journal of Innovation and Scientific Research, 10(2), 255–261.Google Scholar
  55. Sahri, M., Murad, K., Sirajuddin, M. D. M., Adil, M. A. M., & Daud, N. M. (2014). Analyzing the Islamic and legal awareness of the Muslim male students in Malaysia of the prohibition on cross dressing. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 21(10), 1718–1723.Google Scholar
  56. Sayah, R. (2010, June 2). Pakistan jails couple over gay marriage allegation. Cable News Network. Accessed June 26, 2015, from
  57. Schilt, K., & Westbrook, L. (2009). Doing gender, doing heteronormativity “gender normals”, transgender people, and the social maintenance of heterosexuality. Gender and Society, 23(4), 440–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Shapiro, D. L., & Kirkman, B. L. (1999). Employees’ reaction to the change to work teams: The influence of “anticipatory” injustice. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 12(1), 51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stenqvist, T. (2015). The social struggle of being HIJRA in Bangladesh-cultural aspiration between inclusion and illegitimacy. Malmo: Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle.Google Scholar
  60. Stotzer, R. L. (2009). Violence against transgender people: A review of United States data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(3), 170–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tabassum, S., & Jamil, S. (2014). Plight of marginalized: Educational issues of transgender community in Pakistan. The Review of Arts and Humanities, 3(1), 107–119.Google Scholar
  62. Teh, Y. K. (2001). Mak nyahs (male transsexuals) in Malaysia: The influence of culture and religion on their identity. International Journal of Transgenderism, 5(3), 97–103.Google Scholar
  63. Terri Chih-Yin, H. (2008). Enacting privacy and everydayness online: The case study of the Spiteful Tots community. MPhil Thesis, University of York.Google Scholar
  64. Van den Brink, M., Reufs, P., & Tigchelaar, J. (2015). Out of the box-domestic and private international law aspects of gender registration. European Journal of Law Reform, 17(2), 283–293.Google Scholar
  65. Vries, K. M. (2012). Intersectional identities and conceptions of the self: The experience of transgender people. Symbolic Interaction, 35(1), 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wiesenfeld, B. M., Wurthmann, K. A., & Hambrick, D. C. (2008). The stigmatization and devaluation of elites associated with corporate failures: A process model. Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zimman, L. (2009). “The other kind of coming out”: Transgender people and the coming out. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.Google Scholar
  68. Zulfakar, M. (2012). ASEAN leaders ink rights declaration. Accessed June 20, 2015, from

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.University Malaysia SarawakKota SamarahanMalaysia

Personalised recommendations