Transgender Discrimination

All posts in the Transgender Discrimination category

‘I am transgender, and I want my voice to be heard’- CNN iReport

Published June 6, 2010 by sistersinsolidarity

CNN iReport: “I am transgender, and I want my voice to be heard.”

Avery was one of several people who participated in an iReport assignment that asked transgender, transsexual and questioning people to create a message they wanted others to know.

The task was simple: Make a sign with your message, and take a photo of yourself holding it. The responses were powerful and surprisingly candid.

Avery’s message simply said, “I am talented, creative, and beautiful, and I refuse to be tyrannized by a letter.”

She was referring to the letters “M” and “F” commonly used on forms to denote gender. Avery says that a choice like “male” or “female” that usually seems like a no-brainer is fraught with consequences for transgender people.

“That M or F on a document” too often is used to discriminate against us.

Legally, because Avery has not had gender reassignment surgery, she is still referenced as male on some documents and female on others.

Read full CNN iReport here

人妖 也是人. - Photo taken by Charles Lim

Marla Bendini, 24, "人妖" 也是人. Transsexuals are human too. - Photo taken by Charles Lim


Thank you for 116 signatures on our online petition so far…

Published May 9, 2010 by sistersinsolidarity

We need much more than that! Spread the word about discrimination against transgenders in Singapore and help make Singapore a better place for fellow FRIENDS & SISTERS.


Here are some comments from our supporters so far…

Adrian Lai : Customers are always RIGHT, esp they are paying to keep your business running…

Eileena Lee : Transgender women are women too!

Eveline How: Treat all women, including transgender women, with respect!

Kris Lee : Do NOT discriminate!!

Mike Phang: These ladies have every right to have a good time at nightspots and clubs

Wong Heng: Business should not perpetuate discrimination

David Seah: Ignorance is the root of all hatred and discrimination

Nicholas Leow Bullies are cowards.

Val : It is a pity that even modern society such as Singapore, transgendered people must suffer the ignorance of those who are so “blessed” not to suffer the anguish of being born in a gender that does not belong to you

Fanny Ler: Discrimination against Transgender womamn should be STOP worldwide, not just in Singapore… Transgender Women are NOT men but are WOMEN… It is in the BRAIN not between the LEGS…

Michael Larcombe: We are all human beings and all deserve respect.

OH AI NI IRENE: We should not support businesses which have discriminatory practices. This is also an opportunity to look at the marginalized groups in our society and how they are being treated.

Roy Tan: The media should also play an active role in fostering acceptance and non-discrimination of transgender people in Singapore.

Deborah Francini: To those who discriminate and preach hate against sexual minorities, I do feel sorry for your ignorance and bigotry. You think we have a problem but you certainly have a bigger one. To the management of ChinaOne and other similar establishments that have utter disrespect for their fellow humankind, while you clearly have “no balls” to do the right thing, do not expect all your patrons to have “no balls” like you – pun very much intended!

Quek Ser Ming: Let’s be upfront and honest. If nightspot and club operators have issues with the transgender, put prominent signs, so as to avoid unnecessary awkwardness. Transgenders are fellow human beings and deserve respect as well. Not to be the subject of humiliation by your bouncers and ‘unwritten’ rules.


Published May 7, 2010 by sistersinsolidarity

Since the incident at ChinaOne, my sisters and I have been very busy with our educational campaign Sisters in Solidarity (SIS). It is apparent that there is much to do about educating people about transgender issues in Singapore. The press conference and media coverage as well as response from the public has shown that people do care about transgender individuals in Singapore. You can easily google “Sisters in Solidarity” or “Marla Bendini” to find numerous articles and discussions.

Left to right: Ming, studio director of Arco Polates with Tricia Leong, Marla Bendini and Leona Lo at the launch of the Sisters in Solidarity campaign

I am but one transgender woman. I will respond to and blog with regards to any misquotes and issues pertaining to transgender individuals in my own time. If you feel you need to express any opinions, please write to me at

Right now, I will have to focus on my upcoming exhibition, “Conversations between father and son”.

I would like to take some time to thank the following media, independent writers and journalists:


Alex Au, Yawning Bread

蔡依桃, 新明日报 Shin Min Daily News

Sylvia Tan, editor of

Andrew Loh, Chief Editor of The Online Citizen

Thank you for kind consideration and respect as to using the correct pronouns when referring to me and my fellow sister, Ms Tricia Leong, as transgender women. This comes as a rarity amongst the disheartening disrespect and indifference some local media has shown towards transgender individuals despite my plea at the press conference held on 5th May 2010. I would also like to thank them for the kind photos of me that they’ve taken and chosen to publish, unlike the media reports that conveniently took pictures off my facebook or website and published them out of context.

“Referring to transgender people with the right pronouns — meaning the gender they identify with — is a huge gesture toward respect. It’s a slap-in-the-face to ignore how someone feels, dresses, and presents themselves to the world. It’s also a bit inaccurate to call someone who wears dresses and is known to all their friends as Candy as a man. Remember, it’s not our job to tell anyone they’re not really a man or woman, or they’re not doing it right.

Ask people if they go by “he” or “she” then refer to them that way. For those who are truly forward-looking, and believe in a spectrum of gender, there is a third option. In Australia, where recognizing a third gender was recently debated, try the gender neutral “ze.” – Jessie Torrisi article on Human Rights website, “Reporters: How to Get it Right on Transgender Issues”:

I apologise if I have left anyone out in this special mention. Sisters and dear readers, please kindly comment on this post and inform me if you know of any article and writer that deserves special mention here.

Buy our SIS’s badge at $2 each and support our cause this Saturday petition signing at Food#03.

Maybe it does take a simple badge pinned on ourselves to remind us what respect truly is.


Marla Bendini

Chilling Neo Nazi Methods Used to Persecute Transgender Women at Singapore Night Spots

Published May 4, 2010 by sistersinsolidarity

A transgender woman is happily chatting and enjoying drinks with her friend, also a transgender woman, at a popular nightspot in Clarke Quay.  The bouncer approaches them and rudely asks her friend to ask her to leave (he does not know her friend is also transgender).  She demands to know why but he cannot give a reason.  She asks to see his manager.  The manager finally emerges and says she should “know” the reason “herself”.  He is “rude and indignant”, as if she has done something shameful.  He then asks to see her ID, but she refuses to show it to him until he can explain why she’s been singled out.   Finally he gives up and says, “Ok, not everybody knows you’re a man.”  To which she replies, “So what’s the problem here?”.  He says, “This is simply not their THING.”

Adapted from Marla Bendini‘s website

Transgender women in Singapore are at that stage where we are persecuted on the basis of our “stereotypical” features (be it our height/large hands/large feet/prominent Adam’s apple or…sheer beauty). Our IDs are being used like “Star of David” badges which render us “ok” if we are post-op (even this is not guaranteed), but “worthy of persecution” if we are pre-op. The discrimination and persecution has gone on for a long time in the very backyward of one of the world’s richest and most ”advanced” country.

No other minority group in Singapore has to endure such discrimination and persecution. In fact, if the club management behaved in the same way towards any other minority group, their heads would roll. So why single out transgender women? Because we’re easy to target and bully?

As kids, we were bullied in school.  Some of us were “merely” taunted by our classmates, whilst others were beaten up and sexually abused.  We thought that if we could finish our education, we would be able to live life on an equal footing with everyone else and forget our traumatic past.  Unfortunately the schoolroom bullies at Clarke Quay have not allowed us to forget our traumatic past – they are given free rein to hurt and abuse us like animals.  Can we still boast of being a developed nation with these monsters in our backyard?

The rights of transgender women, indeed, of everyone are enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is also enshrined in Singapore’s constitution.  And the first declaration of the summarised text reads:

1. Everyone is free and we should all be treated in the same way

Does it read “Everyone but transgender women…”?

Are transgender women being “treated in the same way” at night spots in Clarke Quay?

Have our basic human rights been violated?  Absolutely yes

What happens at nightspots is only the tip of the iceberg.  I have personally encountered workplace discrimination, which led me to set up my own business.  One transgender woman has also written about being thrown out of an education institution whilst transitioning.

These stories would have been published if not for the fact that none of the women who wrote to me were willing to stand up and speak out against the discrimination, which allowed the monsters to continue to abuse transgender women here.  Until Marla Bendini of course.  Marla’s experiences could very well be our Stonewall.

I appeal to you to stand in solidarity with us as we launch our campaign to fight discrimination against transgender women.  You can log your support here or on our Facebook group.

Thank you for standing in solidarity with us.

Yours Sincerely

Leona Lo (Ms)

Founding Working Group Member

Asia-Pacific Transgender Network