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Andrea is a trans woman who comes from a Muslim family. Growing up, she felt like there was no place for a trans kid in her home. So when she decided it was time to start hormone therapy and undergo operations, she ran away.
There was a lot of fear and misunderstanding so when her child went through it, I can understand how scared she must have felt. My parents heard so many stories of trans women in Singapore becoming hookers and getting beaten up and killed, so they just wanted me to be safe. As a country, it treads the line between being a place where queer individuals can openly express their sexuality, and a place where they are offered no protection from discrimination.
The latter comes from an existing law that was implemented during the colonial years: Section A of the Penal Code, which states that sex between mutually consenting adult men is illegal, and punishable with a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
In September last year, the debate around section A resurfaced after India repealed the same colonial law. Off the streets and in parliament, actions to address the law have not garnered much momentum either. What speaking with local queer individuals showed me is that it is not so much the law, but society, that poses one of the biggest challenges to their freedom. VICE spoke to young LGBTQ Singaporeans about their experience manoeuvring the city-state, how times are slowly changing, and what their coming out experience has been like.
School is often the first contact kids have with wider society outside their homes, and it is also the time when most young people realize they are queer. Everyone loved their senior, and we all thought it was a phase. My first memory of being gay is getting this letter from my senior and crushing on her.