More than a thousand individuals and organisations have signed a petition urging the government to speed up the legislation of a gender recognition ordinance after the death of a transgender woman earlier this month.

The woman died after falling from an overhead bridge at Tai Wai MTR station on July 8. Previously, she had said on Facebook that she felt unable to “fit into society.”

The petition says that the incident reflects the “hostile” treatment faced by transgender people in Hong Kong. It requests that the government set a timetable for the legislation and immediate implementation of a gender recognition ordinance in order to reduce “the hardships and discrimination” faced by the community.

trans people deserve respect
Photo: Dan Garrett

The petition says that the ordinance should adhere to international human rights standards set by the United Nations in guaranteeing the protection of people of different genders, including transgender and intersex people. Intersex is a term used for conditions whereby a person is born with a sexual or reproductive anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Homelessness, termination without cause, immigration detention, and street harassment, intimidation, and violence were listed in the statement accompanying the petition as some of the issues the community face.

See also: The ‘bathroom hurdle’: A transgender woman’s fight for legal recognition and safe spaces

‘Blood on their hands’

Ray Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly-gay lawmaker, spoke to HKFP about the government’s “inertia” in enacting legislation that would ban discrimination and recognise diverse gender identities.

“Those who [are] opposed to legislation, and those who use the worst language and exhibit egregious behaviours to reject us as full members of society have blood on their hands.”

ray chan chi-chuen
Ray Chan. File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Joanne Leung, chairperson of the Transgender Resource Center, said that anxieties and concerns surrounding transgender people were “without empathy and sense.”

See also: Anti-LGBT groups warn of ‘reverse discrimination’ and threats to free speech if gay people are protected

Media misgendering

The statement accompanying the petition said that media reporting about the incident showed “a lack of respect and discrimination,” after it was initially reported that the victim was a man.

“An identity she did not recognise as her own was forced upon her,” said the statement.

The petition says that the media should respect the transgender and intersex community in its future news reports and programmes. It said that the terminology used should adhere to individuals’ self-identified gender identities.

gay pride hong kong
File photo: Rainbow Action.

As of Monday, the petition had 1,008 co-signers, including LGBTQ non-governmental organisations Rainbow of Hong Kong, the Association of Transgender Rights, and BigLove Alliance. Political parties such as Demosisto, the League of Social Democrats, and the Progressive Lawyers Group have also signed.

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.