"where love is illegal"
Abinaya Jayaraman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jan. 6, 2015. Abinaya Jayaraman always considered herself a boy until her late teens, when she started to learn about the transgender community. She was very scared to tell her strict family about her true identity but in June 2008, she finally told her mother but was rejected, she says. Desperately lonely, Jayaraman attempted suicide in April 2009 with a cocktail of sleeping pills and painkillers. She says her mother didn’t visit her once during her three-month hospital stay. The family later disowned her and threw her out of the house. Uncomfortable with acting like a man at work, she eventually quit her job in corporate banking and turned to sex work to survive. “I have no choice. I’m lonely, homeless and live in fear because I decided to be who I am. If I had the chance I would leave Malaysia and go somewhere where I can live and earn with dignity," she says. In Section 377 of Malaysia’s Penal Code, homosexual acts between men and women are criminalized and can amount to whipping and a 20-year prison sentence.