Celebrities, Navy SEALs, television news reporters, and models are now bringing more attention to the transgender community in the West. Here in Singapore, the transgender population isn’t making the headlines that it is in the West, but steps are being taken to increase acceptance.
Recently, a photographic exhibit – the Swan Project Singapore – was on display at NUS and a few SAS students attended.
Senior Juan Granados, who attended the exhibit, said, “Singapore doesn’t do much for transgender people; they are in very bad positions. They come out to their families, their families kick them out and they turn to sex work and become homeless.”
In response to the exhibition, Granados said, “They are showing the human side to transgender women.”
This organization provides a step forward for accepting transgendered people as part of the Singapore community. “Because this is the first of its kind in Singapore, it is really exciting,” Granados added.
Another event that shows increased acceptance of the transgender community in Singapore took place five months ago, when Christopher Khor was legally recognized as a man. He was the first transgender person to make steps toward being accepted by law as his prefered gender. He is now going through the surgical process of completely changing genders as he continues to gain support from family, friends and co-workers.
The desire to become a member of the opposite sex is sometimes diagnosed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), according to Psychology Today. These people feel a serious disconnect with the body they were born into. According to Wikipedia, GID is not only due to psychological and behavioral causes. New evidence suggests that there is a biological cause combined with those, specifically from the person’s genetics, makeup of their brain, and possible prenatal exposure to hormones.
In the past, the US military prohibited transgendered individuals from joining the military and could medically discharge anyone who was found out to be transgender while serving. Only men are allowed to be Navy SEALs. Kristin Beck, formerly known as Chris Beck, served as a part of SEAL Team 6 for 20 years. After fighting for America for two decades, she is now “fighting for more freedoms.”
An American helicopter pilot for a huge news organizations has also publicly undergone transgender surgery. In 2008, a white Bronco driven by OJ Simpson was being chased by the police after being suspected of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend. The car chase was captured on television by a helicopter flown by Bob Turr. She is now known as Zoey Turr, the first transgender TV news reporter.
Those are some of the more famous transgender stories, though there have been transgender contestants in America’s Next Top Model and cast members in Orange is the New Black. According to Williams Institute, it is estimated that 700,000 Americans are transgender and between 100 and 500 undergo the surgery every year.
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS; also known as Gender Reassignment Surgery or GRS) is a formidable process. It is costly and involves many steps. Therapy meetings, letters from physicians, hormone therapy and the surgery itself all add up to almost $60,000. Because of the substantial price, people have to be sure they’re making the right decision.
Recently, former gold medal Olympian and step father to the Kardashians, Bruce Jenner, announced he will become a woman. There have been mixed feelings from members of the transgender world. Turr said it “looks like a Kardashian train-wreck.” She points out that Jenner is making the transgender community look stupid because of the suspicions regarding the news. Though she also said in an interview with TMZ that the transgender community needs role models, especially one that was once known as the greatest athlete in the world.
The SAS community is split between those who think Jenner’s choice will hurt the transgender community and those who believe it will give it more attention and acceptance. Junior Izzie Riant said, “It hurts the reputations of transgenders because his involvement with the Kardashians makes it seem like a joke.”
Junior Claire Freeman disagreed. “It changes the expectation people have because it isn’t something that is big with celebrities and having Bruce Jenner want this shows it should be more accepted.”
Junior Shreya Suresh agreed. “It makes the community stronger because he is an icon in the public eye,” she said.
Similarly, freshman Sarah Mouton said, “It could inspire others to be more open about it.”
Jenner is scheduled to have his first interview as a women in May with Diane Sawyer. Granados said, “I’m not that familiar with the Bruce Jenner case, but because it is a really small minority, people need to be more accepting and I hope that this teaches people about transgender people because of the gap in knowledge.”