ST Saturday Special Report - A Life of Tribulations, but He Has No Regrets (Sept 6)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sep 6, 2008
A life of tribulations, but he has no regrets
FACE TO FACE WITH... JORDAN, branding manager
HIS colleagues and bosses know Jordan (not his real name) as a happily
married fellow with a pretty wife.

What they do not know is that the branding manager was born female. Or
that he and his wife went through many trials and tribulations to be

He has kept his past secret not because he is embarrassed.

'There's nothing to be embarrassed about. I just don't want this to
have an impact on my career,' says the 38-year-old who works for a
training company.

Jordan - who became legally male after undergoing sex reassignment
surgery (SRS) more than 10 years ago - has run into people who know of
his past.

'But no one has exposed me,' he says with a big smile.

The elder of two children born to a civil servant and a housewife, he
knew very early on that he was different.

'The mirror and my body told me otherwise but in all my dreams, I was
always male, never female.'

In Primary 1, he confided in his best friend. Alas, it got back to his
mother who gave him 'the whacking of my life'.

'That was when I knew that what I was feeling was very taboo. From
then on, I learnt not to betray what or how I felt,' he says.

Puberty - with its attendant physical changes - was traumatic. So were
teenage infatuations. However, he never acted on them.

'I could not imagine having a physical relationship when I had the
body of a female,' he says.

When he made it to the National University of Singapore, he felt free
for the first time as he could live the life and wear the clothes that
he wanted.

'That was when the repression of being was lifted,' says the arts
graduate, adding that he took on many male roles in varsity musicals.

After graduating with his basic degree, he started work with a public
relations company.

'I guess it was a last-ditch attempt to be normal. I wore suits with
skirts and really went the whole hog but drew the line at make-up.'

His misery was compounded when a colleague proposed marriage. 'I
really didn't know where that came from,' says Jordan, who then
decided to go back to university to do his honours degree.

By then, he had read up enough on the subject and was convinced he
wanted to undergo SRS after graduating.

He then met his future wife on campus. He shocked himself by telling
her all about himself three days after knowing her.

'I was just drawn to her and I didn't want a relationship to develop
under false pretences.'

She decided to be his girlfriend although she had other suitors.

After graduation, Jordan had his transsexualism confirmed by two
psychiatrists. Not long after, he had his SRS done in Mount Elizabeth
Hospital for about $25,000.

His father was sad; his mother refused to talk to him for a long time.

More challenges loomed ahead.

When his wife's father found out, he hit the daughter he had never hit
in his life, and threatened to disown her and 'ruin' Jordan.

He even got the couple kicked out of the church they went to.

The couple stayed firm and got married, five years after meeting.

Attempts to get a pastor to solemnise their wedding failed. They
finally got married in a ceremony officiated by a Justice of the
Peace. They still go to church.

Jordan says: 'I don't think God makes mistakes. I think he has handled
me differently and he may have a purpose for me, one I don't know and
may not know while I am on this earth.'

Meanwhile, Jordan's father-in-law came around one year after the marriage.

'I think he's sometimes closer to me than to his daughter,' he says,

Life has happily settled now. Children are, however, not on the cards.
His wife told him: 'If they're not yours, I wouldn't want them.'

The branding manager says: 'I owe my wife a great debt of gratitude.'

And, he adds, with great satisfaction: 'We genuinely love each other.'