MOE denies blocking transgender student's hormone therapy treatment

The Ministry of Education said it is not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment.
The Ministry of Education said it is not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has responded to a post on the discussion board Reddit, in which a transgender student said the ministry blocked her from receiving medical care.

"MOE is aware of the Reddit post which claimed that MOE had interfered with a student's hormonal treatment. This is not true," it said in a Facebook post yesterday.

In a post on the SGExams Reddit page last Thursday, the student identified herself as a "male-to-female" transgender girl and said she had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the Institute of Mental Health.

The second-year pre-university student said she was set to undergo hormone therapy as part of her treatment, but was stopped from doing so after the MOE intervened.

Transgender individuals identify with a gender that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

Gender dysphoria refers to the psychological distress that results from this mismatch between one's sense of self and body.

"We invite the student to approach the school to clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better," said MOE, using the male pronoun to refer to the student.

"MOE and schools work closely with and respect the professional advice given by MOH's healthcare professionals. We are not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment, which is a matter for the family to decide on."

The ministry said all schools have a duty of care to students and encouraged students who experience unkind behaviour from peers to approach their teachers or school leaders.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the student said she was first diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2019, before entering her current school. In March last year, she handed the school a memo from her doctor stating her diagnosis.

She said she had parental consent to seek treatment and an agreement with her doctor that she would start hormone therapy only when she turned 18. Her classmates and teachers have been supportive of her, she said.

"In August, I went to see my doctor as I had just turned 18. However, he told me MOE had called for a meeting with him, demanding that he stop writing memos to schools or referring people to hormone therapy without informing MOE first," she said.

"My doctor said he couldn't refer me and that he will work with the MOE. Since August, there has been no referral for hormone therapy."

The student said she and her father met the school management last October. She was told she would have to cut her hair and wear the boys' uniform or she would not be allowed to return.

She has not been attending lessons since school reopened this month. She said she is planning to approach her MP for help and that her priority now is to continue her education while receiving medical treatment.

If the issue cannot be resolved, she said she will consider dropping out of the school and applying to a polytechnic, where rules on attire and hair length are more relaxed.

"The dysphoria is bad enough that I cannot bear to return in boys' uniform or boys' hair," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 17, 2021, with the headline 'MOE denies blocking transgender student's hormone therapy treatment'. Subscribe