Response to TNP Article by Leona Lo

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gender confused kids? Who's confused?

I read with concern The New Paper's front-page article on MOE's ongoing
efforts to train teachers to counsel gender-confused kids (TNP. 11 Sep 08).
My question is - do the counselling sessions aim to help the child find
his/her true gender identity or influence transgender youth to conform to
social norms?

It has long been established internationally that one's gender identity is
distinct from one's sex at birth. When the two do not match, the individual
experiences the medical condition known as "transsexualism". While I
recognise that a sex change operation is not a one-size-fits-all solution
for all transsexuals, it is certainly a "natural" and valid recourse for the
majority of transsexuals, contrary to the sentiments expressed by Professor
Tsoi. And contrary to what Ms Sarah S, a counsellor from NuLife Care and
Counselling Services says, male to female transgender children do not
necessarily behave the way they do because they lack a masculine father
figure in their lives. Has she done a nationwide survey to substantiate her
claims? Or is she commenting based on two to three individuals she has
counselled? A more important question in light of MOE's initiative - is she
one of their trained counsellors?

I myself was a victim of the lack of support in my childhood years. There
were lots of well-intentioned but misguided individuals - including a
prominent leader of the religious group mentionned in your article - who
tried to convince me that being transsexual was "wrong". This compounded my
loneliness and sense of alienation, leading to a suicide attempt in my late
teens. It was only when I fled to the United Kingdom for my studies in a
more tolerant and welcoming environment that I flourished academically and

I have remained in Singapore because I feel I still have lots to contribute
to this beautiful society of ours - a society founded on secular,
meritocratic principles and love and respect for racial and religious
diversity. I hope MOE will adopt the same open-minded, enlightened approach
when conducting its training sessions - and when selecting the service

Yours Sincerely
Leona Lo
Author, From Leonard to Leona, A Singapore Transsexual's Journey to