'They stare at you, talk behind your back'

'They stare at you, talk behind your back'
Saturday, Jan 30, 2010
The New Paper
By Ng Wan Ching

SINGAPORE - Her daughter calls her "Fanny-mummy". That's to differentiate her from the woman who gave birth to the girl.

You see, Fanny Ler is actually the girl's biological father. Except that the 35-year-old is now a woman in the making, or in technical terms, a transitioning transgender (TG) woman.

She is on hormonal treatment and is awaiting sexual re-assignment surgery.

Fanny and the girl's mother are getting a divorce - but apparently not for this reason.

Fanny claims the girl's mother did not even know about it when divorce proceedings began after seven years of marriage.

The girl, now 12, loves and supports Fanny. So does Fanny's family, especially her mother. But she says there is little support from society for people like her.

She told The New Paper: "Some Singaporeans will see you and then stare at you. Others will ignore you completely. Yet others will talk behind your back.

"While I don't personally have to deal with such prejudice, I have many friends who do."

She claimed many of her TG women friends have been rejected by their families and many who have been open about their situation find it hard to get jobs.

Other friends, who want to become women but don't, remain stuck in marriages, for fear of being rejected by their families and children, she added.

Fanny is all for more education and outreach which will help people to better understand people like her.

"TG women are not freaks. There is a medical reason why we are like this," she said. "We are not gay men. We are born into the wrong body."

Life does not have to be so difficult for TG women, she said. It all depends on how society views them.

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