Between Rose and Thorn

loading Roja.

The International Transgender Day of Visibility falls on March 31. In Malaysia, the rights of transgenders are often ignored and they feel safe only in society’s shadows.

She is known as Roja to her customers. She is 36 years old, and a maven in Penang’s escort industry. “I’ve been in business for 17 years now, ever since I was 19,” she says, her voice husky from the many cigarettes she smokes every day.

The third child in the family, Roja opted out of school at 14 to help put food on the table. Money was hard to come by; her father worked as a security guard while her mother was a housewife. Roja took a job at a breadmaking factory.

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