IDAHOTB Series: Singapore

By May 14, 2021 May 17th, 2021 Advocacy, Newsroom, Regional

Contributor :
Daryl Goh

Daryl is a marketing specialist, with expertise in social impact and nonprofit management. He has a penchant for creating value and relatability in all his work to tastefully market your organisation’s message. Having worked in LGBTQI+ advocacy, women’s equality, and mental health, Daryl strives to continue learning about the intersectionality and nuances in discussing social issues.

Daryl is also part of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific 2019 cohort.

“The Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific programme was a very inspiring experience and made a huge impact on me, even till today. Working with the other leaders and seeing what they have accomplished, it is keeps me motivated to push myself to continue giving back to my community.”

Daryl Goh

As I reflect on the past year since this global pandemic started, living in Singapore has been a blessing, all things considered. Despite some early setbacks, the country has been an example of prioritising science and public health.

During the period of uncertainty when Singapore went into circuit breaker (our equivalent of a lockdown), fellow Singaporeans, including many LGBTQI+ individuals, had trouble connecting with their support network. It is wonderful to know that the few LGBTQI+ services were still working hard to meet the basic needs of the local community.

The T Project, a social service for the transgender community in Singapore, continued to provide shelter and food rations for those in need throughout the pandemic. Oogachaga also leveraged technology to conduct counselling through emails and WhatsApp, providing a little relief to the LGBTQI+ individuals, particularly those who were stuck at home with less affirming family members.

It was also very inspiring to see all the donations that went towards supporting the work these essential organisations are doing for the community. With donations and volunteers, The T Project is recently able to start a befrienders programme and even move their community centre to a new location with more services.

With all the progress that Singapore has made in the past year, access for the LGBTQI+ community to healthcare and other essential public services is still limited. At the start of this year, a young transgender student shared on social media about how her hormone treatment was restricted by the Ministry of Education, despite receiving the referral from her doctor and consent from her parents.

While the Ministry has denied they interfered with this student’s treatments, this incident prompted a group of individuals to gather outside the Ministry of Education building, requesting to “end discrimination against LGBTQI+ students”. The authorities had to clear the group because of Singapore’s laws against public assembly, which resulted in the arrest of three students.

There has been little public news on the situation after the incident, but it has sparked a discussion about access of LGBTQI+ students to proper healthcare. Teachers and social workers came together to sign a petition urging for clearer policies and training on supporting LGBTQI+ students in schools. A local news outlet also published a rare article about the access to healthcare and social support for transgender youths

Reflecting on the past year, I am very hopeful about the future. In Singapore at least, I am looking forward to having more constructive conversations and more public awareness about the challenges of the local LGBTQI+ community.

There is definitely work that still needs to be done in providing access and support for the community. With everyone coming together and supporting those in need, we can start healing and rebuilding a stronger community post-Covid-19.

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