Recognised legally, but challenges remain

Singapore performed its first sex change operation in 1971 and two years later, allowed those who undergo the operation to change their gender legally.

But despite decades of official recognition, transgender people here say they face many challenges.

Social worker Leow Yangfa, 41, executive director of counselling group Oogachaga, shares some of them:

• Bullying and discrimination in school, leading many transgender students to drop out.  

• Adults face discrimination in employment and housing.

• Many do not have adequate support from family, friends and community.

• Parents of transgender youth have a lack of professional support in community and social service settings.

• Youth being forced by parents to deny their transgender identity.

• Information about transitioning and sexual health is scant.

• Difficulty accessing affordable, trans-affirming healthcare services, including sexual and mental health services.

• Having to travel overseas for sex reassignment surgery.

• Service providers using the wrong pronoun - especially when the person has not gone for sex reassignment surgery and his/her identity is different from what is listed on the NRIC.

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Recognised legally, but challenges remain'. Subscribe