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Statement of Solidarity with Transgender Students in Singapore

Students & LGBTQ+ Supporters Protesting Outside MOE Building were arrested

1. We, the undersigned organisations, express our solidarity with Ashlee, the transgender student at Millennia Institute whose right to privacy, health, safety and access to education were violated by her school. We are deeply concerned about the lack of institutional regulations or policies that acknowledge and protect the rights of transgender students in Singapore. The facts referred to in this statement were provided to us directly by Ashlee to the best of her recollection and knowledge. For reference, we provide a complete timeline of events from Ashlee’s perspective at the end of this statement.

2. Transgender youths often face violence and discrimination at home and in schools because of their gender identities or expressions. In a joint submission to the United Nations (UN) for Singapore’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Sayoni and TransgenderSG documented many such incidents, including where educational institutions sought to prevent transgender students from transitioning or pursuing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) while at school. TransgenderSG’s 2020 nationwide survey found that over three-quarters of students who were out as transgender in school reported negative experiences ranging from bullying to sexual assault. A third of trans students stated that they did not feel safe at school, and almost half felt they had no one at school they could turn to for help.

3. Despite having parental consent to medically transition, Ashlee was informed by her doctor in August 2020 that MOE needs him to consult and work with schools before referring any student for HRT. On 23 October 2020, Ashlee’s school leaders and administrators met with her and her father to inform them that should Ashlee choose to receive hormone replacement therapy, it would have to be at a reduced dosage. They told Ashlee that she would be expelled if physical changes from the hormones made her no longer able to fit into the boys’ uniform.

4. On 5 Nov 2020, Ashlee was pulled out of class and reprimanded for her hair length. After returning home, the school called her father to inform him that Ashlee was not to return to school until she cut her hair. The school declined her request for home-based learning. Ashlee did not return to school for the rest of the school year from 6 Nov 2020 to 27 Nov 2020. On 11 Jan 2021, the first day of Year 2, Ashlee turned up at school only to be called up by the school administration within an hour and thrown out of the school compound because her hair length did not comply with the boy’s dress code.

5. On 15 January 2021, Ashlee posted on Reddit about her experiences. MOE responded by issuing a statement denying their alleged interference in her hormone replacement therapy or that of any student. On 18 January 2021, the school met with Ashlee and informed her that they would not allow her to attend classroom lessons unless she complies with the hair and uniform requirements for male students, once again denying her right to education on the basis of her gender expression. An allowance was made for her to wear track pants and a polo shirt instead of the boy’s uniform, on the condition she agreed to cut her hair.

6. We affirm that medical advice, in particular medical advice on hormone dosage levels, should be left to healthcare professionals. Schools should not interfere with a student’s healthcare decisions and necessary medical treatments. In addition, schools should not punish – let alone threaten to expel – students for failing to adhere to gender stereotypes and binary gender roles, or invade their privacy by sharing their transgender identity without their consent.

7. Existing research extensively documents a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among transgender individuals. HRT is a life-saving treatment that has been proven to significantly reduce this prevalence and improve the mental health and quality of life of many transgender persons with gender dysphoria. In Singapore, a 2016 study found that nearly half of transgender women have had suicidal thoughts. Millennia Institute’s ultimatum for Ashlee to choose between receiving an education or receiving medically necessary treatment violates her basic human rights to self-determination, privacy, personal autonomy and bodily integrity, as well as her right to education and the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

8. In 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)5, which Singapore has ratified since 1995, expressed concerns over the persisting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) children in Singapore and recommended the State to adopt comprehensive strategies, including providing sensitivity training for teachers. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has since expressed their commitment to meeting the mental health needs of students, and implementing measures to combat bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression at educational institutions. It is thus profoundly troubling and disappointing that MOE’s official statement on Ashlee’s allegations refused to acknowledge her gender identity and chose to misgender her by using male pronouns.

9. In response to the Ministry Of Education’s denial of any involvement in withholding Ashlee’s hormone replacement therapy, and their stated commitment to keeping students safe, we call upon the Ministry of Education and Institute of Mental Health to act on this commitment by working with LGBTIQ organisations to clarify and implement a uniform standard of care for transgender students and other LGBTIQ youths across all schools, in order to ensure safe and nurturing environments for all students regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or sex characteristics.

10. We invite all transgender and other LGBTIQ students who have faced violence or discrimination in schools to share your stories with us by emailing [email protected].

Signed by:

ACAVE
Aces Going Places
Bissu
Dear Straight People
Embrace Singapore
Equality in Education
Free Community Church
gayhealth.sg
Gender Collective
GLBT Voices Singapore
Heckin’ Unicorn
IndigNation SG
Inter-University LGBT Network, Singapore
Jejaka
Kaleidoscope
Mates Gone Running
Minority Voices
My Queer Story SG
Nonbinary Singapore
Out in SG
Pelangi Pride Centre
Penawar
Pink Dot SG
Project X
Prout
Q Space
QUASA SG
Queer Friendly Chers
QueerNUS
Queer Singapore
Rainbow Parents SG
Ready4Repeal
SAFE – Supporting, AFfirming and Empowering our LGBTQ friends and family
Sayoni
SGRainbow
Singapore LGBT Law
SKRRT CENTRAL
tFreedom
Thebearproject
The Bi+ Collective Singapore – TBCSG
The Healing Circle.sg.
The Purple Alliance
TransBefrienders
TransgenderSG
TransNUS
Trevvy
True Singapore Love
Young OUT Here
AWARE Singapore
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
Asia Pacific Transgender Network
MARUAH
New Naratif
SG Climate Rally
soft/WALL/studs
The Greenhouse
Post-Museum
Allen Carr’s Easyway (Singapore)
I-REVIVE SG
Xpointo Media
Replica Software

You can also download the statement at https://bit.ly/3qycAqP

 

 

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7 Responses to “Statement of Solidarity with Transgender Students in Singapore”

  • MOE Close Down:

    Don’t seem like schools/MOE understand the transgender issue. BEcause they still treat the person as male.

    Anyway those all boys schools got plenty of gay boys, sissies.

    PHPPS close down.

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  • Lay Chay:

    So many groups to sign can’t beat one group in whisper. Who put this group up there? Probably including those in these signed groups. You think they bother to read? Get rid of the one group you don’t have to mass sign to appeal to them anymore. Stupidity has no cure.

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  • xoxo:

    Transgender students are still persons.
    We need to respect theirs and their parents’ choices.

    Due consideration must be accorded to them.
    This old man thought ,all this while,that most schools have counsellor-teachers?
    Guess such counsellors must be better trained to handle such cases.

    It is not an easy task but it should not be brushed aside.

    Research by MOE needs to be carried out to study the trend and to better understand students’ special needs.

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  • Tremendous:

    Give the education chief a break. One issue on laptop DMA with an increasing petition and he already cannot respond till now, and you people still want to throw him with a LGBTQ issue :-)

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on Asiaone :Quote -”Burning feeling’ in eyes: 70 Springdale Primary School students sent home with mystery condition
    JANUARY 27, 2021….

    Students at Springdale Primary School were afflicted with a mysterious condition on Monday (Jan 25) — 70 of them were sent home after experiencing eye irritation.

    A parent told Mothership that the school contacted them at 12.40pm that day, saying that their daughter had complained of eye irritation.

    The girl’s eyes did not appear red or sore but the “burning sensation” had continued even after she went home.

    They also sought medical help as advised by the school, but the doctor was unable to diagnose her due to insufficient information, the parent said.

    The school, located in Anchorvale, said on Jan 26 that they were unable to “ascertain the cause of the incident” but have thoroughly cleaned and ventilated the classrooms as a precautionary measure.

    “We immediately attended to the students and alerted their parents, some of whom sought medical attention,” they added….

    While most of the affected students returned to school on Tuesday, some students are still resting at home, CNA reported.

    In response to the incident, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the air quality readings near the primary school were within the normal range.

    The agency added that they have not received any “similar feedback in the vicinity of the school, or any upsurge in air quality feedback during the time of the incident.”

    NEA said that they are working with the school to investigate the cause of the incident, and investigations are ongoing.

    “The school is working with the relevant authorities to investigate the cause of the incident, and will continue to monitor the well-being of our students closely,” Springdale Primary added. “Unquote.

    Response :Burning sensation in their eyes ? Corona virus attack them ?
    Better check whether that school has a lot of e*** b**$* Indian schoolgirls studying there or not or a lot of e*** Indian b**$* women teachers or principals teaching there or not ? All those Indian b**$* bring their e*** b**$* six year old to Singapore also got cotona virus .Their Indian b**$* country is full of corona virus ! Kick out those Indian beasts corona virus before all of us got killed ! Pui!

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  • #06-177 Huang Ba Dan Go Hell:

    Many of these gay groups would have voted PAP.

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  • Uncle:

    Who did you vote for?

    I’m sure the majority of the undersigned voted PAP.

    You gave them the mandate so why make noise now? You knew what PAP is like but still you voted for them.

    Serve you right.

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