News and Opinions

Let’s talk about transsexuals…

Written by AnJ on . Posted in Events

In Chinese conversations, you can sometimes hear the phrase, “neither male nor female” in describing a transgender. It is used more commonly on male-to-female transgender persons (MtF). Many times, this was uttered in a derogatory manner, hinting at inadequacy. Without doubt, such an attitude arose from ignorance of the distinction between biological sex and gender.

Frequently these are conflated with sexual preference to form a rigid entity. This is erroneous. There are MtFs who are lesbians i.e. biologically males who feel like women and prefer women as partners. There are also asexual MtFs. These may come across as bizarre to some. However, the gender you like does not determine what gender you feel like.

The transgender community has been stereotyped and marginalized by both the general public as well as the queer community. It was believed that being queer is tantamount to possessing a decent grasp of all things queer. Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge is no respecter of persons. The transgender forum, which took place during the first week of IndigNation elucidated the fact that one’s inherent gender cannot be altered. Contrary to popular belief, transgender persons did not choose their gender- they were born with it. That is, if you feel like a woman, you will continue to feel like one in years to come.

An MtF on the forum previously lived as the socially assigned gender (accorded to her based on her biological sex) in her attempt to live according to conventions. This was possible for her because of her fluid sexuality (sexual orientation). For other MtFs who do not have the luxury of such “partner choice”, many grappled with sexuality issues, with doubts of being gay. This happens as they face the consequences of going against the public grain of gender and sex concurrently.

Media depictions of the transgender community are extremely skewed representations. Sensational news sell and is given priority coverage. Coming the mystique of the transgender community and the salacious nature of the sex trade, this potent concoction is bound to horrify, riding on unfamiliarity and a lofty, yet unsubstantiated moral ground. Transgender sex workers have their own reasons for being there. Just as we would not label heterosexuals as perverts based on sex workers in Geylang, we should also refrain from labeling the entire transgender community as propagating a fetish. Indeed, numerous successful transgender persons go into stealth- they are not easily distinguished as transgendered because they blend into the mainstream community. Many of these successful TGs are highly educated and high-flyers in their respectable field of work. Thus, the stereotype of transgender folks falls flat in these instances.

The pains of the costly transition process it not something that the average person from the street can fathom. We salute our valorous sisters. May increased education about this community to the public prompt social understanding, acceptance and a fine appreciation of the transgender world!

Visit: a website in Singapore for the transgender community.

Tribute to My Nation

Written by irene on . Posted in Commentary


My first memories of National Day have always been the school celebrations, whereby we learnt to sing community songs a few weeks before the celebration. The schools in Singapore usually have the celebration one day before National Day, and we would watch the performances put up by our peers, and wave little Singapore flags. At the end of the day, we would go home with files or pens with the words ‘Happy National Day’ on them.

I never had the chance to watch the National Day Parade up close, partly because my parents were never enthusiastic about the idea. It is also partly because the tickets used to be much coveted items, which people queued up for days to obtain. However, watching the National Day Parade on television was a grand event. As a young child, I used to watch it earnestly with my cousins, and of course our favourite programme was the fireworks display, and sometimes we can see the display right outside the windows, much to our excitement.

As I grew older, the novelty of celebrating National Day wore off. However, I still have the amusing habit of counting the flags that are hung inverted, on the exterior walls of HDB flats.

Everything was simple and pretty when I was a child. I knew that I was born in a country that is ‘prosperous and flourishing’. I was promised of a bright future if I ‘study hard’. It seemed that every Singaporean has an equal opportunity to succeed in life. It seemed that nobody would be left behind. It did not take long for me to be disillusioned though.

Why I am cynical about Singapore’s political process

Written by Teng Qian Xi on . Posted in Commentary

I live in a country where the state believes they have the right to decide whether people should be digits, or creative or entrepreneurial.

I live in a country where the ministers claim that the ruling party’s majority votes means “the people want to be led.” (Dr Wang Kai Yuen, ST, April 4 2002) I live in a country where before the general elections, the ruling party redraws constituency boundaries to have more walkovers, bankrupts opposition politicians and castrates the national press while its ministers tell everyone to speak up, not to fear being “hit by a big stick” (Raymond Lim, ST, April 4 2002). This is safe because the people who spoke up before MPs encouraged them to are either overseas, silenced or dead.

I live in a country where no minister has campaigned publicly for the abolition of the Internal Security Act even if they believed that it was a violation of human rights. Even if they knew that Communism is demonised by the authorised history. Even if they knew that most of the population heads down to Orchard Road on Sundays.

I live in a country where the ministers who determine the political process are paid private-sector salaries. There are few other reasons to join the ruling party, so certified talents are worth their price.

I live in a country where the state announces that we must have a vibrant arts scene. So they build the Esplanade which is too big for most local performance groups. On National Day they say that promoting the arts is another way to attract more tourists to this ‘global hubcity’; they do not even pretend that pandering to foreign money is less important than giving citizens an awareness of their own country’s culture.

I live in a country where the front shelves of bookshops are crowded with one man’s words. Until recently, anything that disagrees these words could only be found in Select Books (Tanglin Shopping Centre) or overseas.

I live in a country where my parents have friends who were tortured by the Internal Security Department. So for them and others, an 18-year-old girl talking to the press about politics will never be seen as invulnerable. An 18-year-old girl who comments on a minister in an newspaper interview will be told she could cause someone in MOE to lose their job.

I live in a country where the national paper will announce that a poem has won a foreign prize, but they will not willingly add (until much later) that it is written from a lesbian perspective. What the paper’s employees think of homosexuality and its criminalisation has nothing to do with this.

I live in a country where the state makes its arguments too simple. Such as: the PAP = the country. Such as: democracy = protests = violence = disorder = national disaster. Such as: human rights = confusing Western concept that our people don’t need to learn very much about. Such as: history = one man’s story. Such as: Chia Thye Poh = opposition = Marxist = dangerous = 32 years of imprisonment = non-existence in the authorised history.

I live in a country with a population that is constantly hit by men in white with invisible and visible sticks. I live in a country where it is hard to expect people to value anything more than protecting themselves from these big sticks, or getting your own stick and white uniform.

Sayoni Queer Women Survey 2006

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Announcements

Sayoni is proud to present the first ever Sayoni Queer Women Survey, 2006. This survey is aimed at lesbian/bisexual/queer women living in Singapore, to gather essential information about the community, in terms of…

1. Age, racial and religious composition

2. Educational and career background, and financial status

3. Social framework, in relation to their sexual orientation

4. Personal/Emotional status, in relation to their sexual orientation

We appeal to you to take this survey, if you happen to belong to the target group. Just five minutes of your time can help us learn how to better help you and the community as a whole, as well as serve as a record of progress throughout the years.

All information, once collected and analysed, will be made publicly available.

Please be reassured that this survey is completely anonymous. Individual responses will not be revealed, and will not be traceable to the individual user.

Please help spread the word around, to your queer female friends. We aim to capture people from all social strata in this survey.

Sayoni Queer Women Survey 2006

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