A 39-year-old transgender woman has been killed in Klang, Malaysia.

It is alleged that she died after falling from a moving vehicle in the early hours of 1 January and the driver, a 55 year old man, has been arrested in relation to the incident, The Star Online reports.

The case bears a striking resemblance to the murder of a 32 year old transgender woman on 12 December last year which saw five people, aged 16 – 21, charged with beating her to death.

Like the previous victim, the unidentified woman was from the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo and she died in Bukit Tinggi.

It’s been alleged she was attempting to steal the man’s mobile phone when she threw herself from the multi-purpose vehicle (MVP), mirroring the excuse given by the suspects in the other case.

The woman, who wasn’t carrying any identification at the time of her death, is believed to have been sex worker and the man a client.

He initially fled the scene but was later arrested for soliciting her services, and is also being investigated for murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which can carry the death penalty.

“An initial investigation revealed that the (client) was (angry with the transgender woman) for allegedly stealing (his) OPPO mobile phone,” said South Klang district police chief Assistant Commissioner Shamsul Amar Ramli, according to New Straits Times.

“But the transgender woman denied stealing the phone, prompting the suspect’s ire. She tried to escape (the MPV) by jumping out of the vehicle.”

“The victim suffered injuries on both knees, left ankle, left eyebrow and nose, suspected to have been caused by falling out of the car,” Shamsul Amarsaid also said, per The Star Online.

A post-mortem identified severe head injuries as the ultimate cause of death.

Police have again denied the killing was a hate crime, citing the alleged theft of the mobile phone as evidence.

Local LGBTI and women’s rights organisations have released a joint statement calling for better protections for transgender Malaysians and the broader LGBTI community in response to the recent death.

“We are extremely concerned over the rise in cases of violence and crimes against trans women in Malaysia. Including this case, at least 3 cases of murder have been reported between November 2018 and January 2019,” reads the statement from Justice for Sisters, a campaign to raise awareness of violence against trans women in Malaysia.

“In many cases of violence and crimes against trans women, trans women are not only blamed but are seen as the guilty party. The stigma and stereotypes in relation to trans women also often allow for absurd defence by the perpetrators.”

“Some common narratives include narratives that position perpetrators as acting or reacting out of self-defence, to protect themselves from theft/crime, repulsion, or rejection of sexual advancements. This plays into the stereotypes of trans women being criminals and immoral, often resulting in lack of adequate penalties against perpetrators for the violence and crimes committed.”

Endorsed by 17 organisations in total, including PELANGI Campaign, All Women’s Action Centre, Sisters in Islam, Queer Lapis, and PT Foundation, the report details a number of attacks on LGBTI Malaysians in recent years, including the violent attack on two men accused of having sex in a car which went viral after it was caught on video.

“These continuous traumatic events of violence and crimes, if not addressed with an evidence and rights-based approach, will further isolate trans and LGBTQ people and increase the trust deficit in police and the government,” the statement concludes.

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