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What coming out in Singapore is like: 7 people share their stories // LGBT Rights in Singapore

Content warning: some of the stories below mention self-hate, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and familial rejection. We’ve added content warnings to the individual stories below. Help is available

Coming out can be a terrifying process, especially in Singapore. 

With hostility and discrimination still embedded in our public systems, many queer folks here (understandably) feel apprehensive about coming out to their friends and family. The lack of public discussion on this topic also means that many of us don’t know what to expect if we were to take that first step. 

On top of that, we don’t really just come out once, either. We come out to ourselves, then to our friends, family, or colleagues — and even after we think we’re done with it, we often have to decide if we want to come out to every new person we meet in our lives. 

We’re here to make things a little easier for you. We’ve spoken to 7 Singaporeans about their coming out experiences, and asked them for advice that they would give to folks who are thinking about coming out. For each of the 7 contributions below, you’ll find their coming out stories, followed by a Q&A segment!

Everyone’s coming out experience (including yours) will be different, so we hope that this collection of experiences will help give you a better understanding of what it might be like to come out in Singapore. Here we go! ❤️


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Sophia

Mid 20s | Queer cisgender woman

Pronouns: She / Her

Content warning: this section talks about self-harm. 

Sophia’s coming out story 

Sophia was 13 when her friend introduced her to the British TV show Skins. It was a show about the budding pains of adolescence, and it left an impression on her not only because it touched on darker themes such as substance use and mental illnesses, but also because it was the first time she saw a lesbian couple on TV. 

When Sophia turned 14, she realised that she’d been experiencing attraction towards girls for some time. But even though she knew that queer people and relationships exist, the lack of representation in a heteronormative society like Singapore made her feel that it was somehow wrong to feel that way. 

Sophia would tie a rubber band around her arm and use it to smack herself whenever she had “lesbian thoughts”. As innocuous as that sounds, it was a form of self-harm, and it would take Sophia another 3 years to be truly confident about her identity. 

Thankfully, Sophia’s family was very supportive of her. When she was about 15, her dad casually told her that he wanted her to focus on her studies and not get into relationships so soon. But it quickly became clear that this wasn’t just a typical focus-on-your-studies chat: Sophia’s dad said that he didn’t want her to have a boyfriend or girlfriend yet. That was her dad’s subtle way of letting her know that he knew that she likes girls, and that he’s ok with that. 

With those simple words, Sophia’s dad made her feel safe and accepted at home. She never really had to come out to her dad or family since then; she felt safe bringing her girlfriend home and introducing her to her family. 

“In a funny way, I was robbed of my dramatic coming out moment!” Sophia joked with us. “But I know that I’m very, very lucky to not have to go through that (often traumatic) moment with my family.” 

Sophia feels lucky that she could also be true to herself at work. When she realised that her first boss was an LGBTQ+ activist, she felt safe to be her true self. Her colleagues and subsequent bosses were cool with it too: the worst reactions she got were awkward “Ohhhhh”s from colleagues who were supportive, but didn’t know how to react in an affirming way. 

Sophia is happily partnered with her girlfriend of many years. 

Q&A with Sophia

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Sophia: 

Don’t try to condition yourself out of being queer — it doesn’t work. For anyone out there, “conversion therapy” does not work! 

On top of that, there also isn’t a fixed way of being queer. There isn’t one way of being lesbian, or one way to look when you’re a lesbian. When I was first coming out, I felt the need to butch it up, wear masculine clothes, or act or present in a certain way. I want to tell my younger self that you don’t need to look a certain way to be a certain way. 

Oh and also it’s ok to come out to your family because they are super freaking cool about it! 

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Sophia: 

Everyone’s pace is different, and everyone’s coming out experience is different. There’s no such thing as it being “too early” or “too late” to come out. When you’re ready, you’re ready. And if you’re not ready, that’s ok too! 


Roo

Early 20s | Queer non-binary person

Pronouns: They / Them

Content warning: this section talks about self-hate and familial rejection. 

Roo’s coming out story 

Roo knew that they were queer since a relatively young age. But having grown up in Singapore, they also quickly learnt that anyone who isn’t straight is deemed by society to be “wrong”. On top of that, Roo had never seen themself represented anywhere: they had only known one other queer person (who was in another school), and had never really heard or seen any queer person in the media. 

“When I wasn’t following the supposed right way to be, everything just felt wrong,” Roo said. “I felt like I was doing something wrong.” 

Because of that, Roo struggled with a lot of internalised homophobia while they were growing up. They were often overcome with self-hate, self-directed anger, and a soul-crushing disappointment that they were someone that they were “not supposed to be”. 

At 15, after having learnt a lot more about queer identities online, Roo began to feel more confident in their sexuality. When they decided to come out to their best friend, however, things took a turn for the worse. 

“Eww, that’s wrong,” their friend instinctively said. 

With those simple words, it was as if years of hard work were erased. Roo’s self-blaming mechanism kicked in again, and they distanced themself from their best friend because they didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. And even though their friend approached them a week later and accepted who they are, her words and reactions had already had an impact on the way Roo presented themself around friends. 

It was only after spending a few years in London during their university studies that Roo realised how much they de-emphasised their queerness in the past. In a way, they minimised their outward queerness in order to lower their risk of rejection or social awkwardness when interacting with friends. It was a subconscious — almost insidious — behaviour that Roo had to unlearn years later. 

Roo’s experience in London also opened their eyes to the complexity and diversity of gender identities. Through their friends, they learned that gender isn’t just binary, and that non-binary folks exist and thrive. All the years of questioning — of feeling that something wasn’t quite right — came to an end. 

Even though Roo is confident about their identity today, they still feel like they’re constantly coming out to strangers around them. As a masculine-presenting person, they often feel judged or eyed by passersby. 

“Many people in Singapore still think in very binary terms,” Roo told us. “It sometimes feels like society is still telling you that you’re wrong.” 

Roo is out to most people around them today, and works at a tech startup. 

Q&A with Roo 

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Roo: 

Everything is definitely going to be ok. You will take a while to figure things out, but you will eventually get there. There will be a day when you come to realise that you no longer have to assimilate to heteronormative societal behaviours — how people expect you to act or present yourself. 

Fuck binaries, honestly. Be whoever the fuck you want to be. One day, all that confusion, disappointment, and fear will go away. You will meet people who will be able to relate to you and love you in a way that you deserve to be loved. 

What would you say to younger queer folks in Singapore who are questioning their gender?

Roo: 

Take your time. Don’t pressure yourself to figure things out immediately. Definitely do it at a pace that you’re comfortable with, because no one is rushing you or forcing you to figure everything out right now. 

Everything will be ok. I know that it can feel very lonely, because it feels like you’re the only one going through all of these, questioning all of these. But that’s not true, because there’s so many people out here — whom you may not even know — who love you and will be more than happy to support you and be there for you. 

Whenever you’re ready, just give me a call and I’ll bring you to your first queer party — with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks! Everything will be ok. 

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Roo: 

Make sure you feel safe, make sure you’re doing it in a safe space. I’m not dissuading you from coming out, but do know that sometimes it can be dangerous depending on the circumstances. You don’t need to rush yourself, and you shouldn’t feel pressured by anyone else, just do it when you’re ready. 


Ilyas

Late 20s | Bisexual trans man

Pronouns: He / Him 

Content warning: this section talks about familial rejection. 

Ilyas’ coming out story 

Ilyas knew that he was bisexual since a young age, but identified as lesbian in order to avoid unwanted attention from guys. When he was about 17, he came across the term “transgender”, and was immediately intrigued by it. Before that, he never really understood the complexities behind gender and sex. 

Ilyas began researching about gender identities, and realised quite quickly that he’s a transgender man. In those brief moments, all his past experiences and feelings growing up — the sense of dissociation he felt between his true self and body — made sense. Everything clicked into place. 

But when Ilyas came out to his then-girlfriend about being trans, she wasn’t very supportive. She told him that God created him as a girl, and that he should cherish instead of reject it. It would take Ilyas another 5 years before he felt safe enough to start transitioning socially. 

Ilyas moved out of his parents’ place when he decided to start transitioning socially. He sent his mum a long text message explaining his identity and his decision to live as his true self, but she wasn’t very receptive to that. Even till date, she would tell him how sad she is that he’s presenting as someone that’s “not himself” whenever they meet up. 

Thankfully, Ilyas has found allies in his friends and other family members. His sister was the first person to affirm him as a man, and even helped him find LGBTQ+ resources and people that he could reach out to. Ilyas’ other siblings are also supportive, even though some of them took a while to learn about trans identities. And when Ilyas came out on social media, his friends were overwhelmingly affirming and supportive. 

When Ilyas started transitioning, the way he practiced his religion changed too. He stopped going to Friday worship sessions in his mosque, out of fear for his personal safety. But despite that, he continued practicing his faith in his personal space, and continued practicing his rituals and fastings. Even though he felt to some extent like he lost a connection with a wider community, his connection with God remained strong. 

“There’s a concept called Fitrah in Islam, the state of purity that all humans are born with,” Ilyas told us. “It’s the real, original identity of a person, and who’s to say how it’s defined? God created all beings, and he created gay people and trans people. To these people, being gay or being trans is their Fitrah.” 

Ilyas started attending Friday worship sessions again recently. He didn’t experience any negative reactions beyond the normal curiosity that folks have whenever a newcomer joins their mosque. 

He’s happily employed in an inclusive MNC, and was invited to speak in a company event for Transgender Visibility Day. 

Q&A with Ilyas 

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Ilyas: 

You will face a lot of struggles along the way. It won’t be easy, but the price you pay will be worth it — the freedom of self that you will experience, the ability to speak confidently with your own voice, are worth it. 

What would you say to younger queer folks in Singapore who are questioning their gender?

Ilyas: 

Give it a long think. It’s never too late to physically transition, it can happen at any stage of your life. But it’s a permanent decision, so take your time to figure things out. 

You could be cis and gender-nonconforming in your presentation, or you could be trans, and that’s ok too. You can decide whether you want to socially transition first, or whether you want to physically transition. You have all the time to think about your gender — explore it, question it. 

You can hit up The T Project, Oogachaga, Bissu, Quasasg for trans-affirming tips and resources. Quasasg, especially if you’re muslim and questioning! There are a lot more resources now compared to the past! 

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Ilyas: 

Make sure you have your support network, in case of a fallout. People whom you trust, who will be there for you. It would help if you have queer friends, or a good ally “on standby”, whether it’s in person or online! 

There’s also no rush in coming out. Your safety is the priority when it comes to this. Do it on your own time. 


Kirsten

Queer

Pronouns: She / They

Content warning: this section talks about self-hate and suicidal thoughts. 

Kirsten’s coming out story 

Growing up in the 90s, Kirsten was used to hearing gay slurs. 

“There were zero positive LGBTQ figures,” she recalled, “whether in real life or in the media.” Kirsten is now a filmmaker based in New York, but she was brought up in a conservative Chinese home in Singapore. “There was a complete disconnect between who I was and who I was expected to be.”

Kirsten was gender non-conforming by the age of 6.  When she started having crushes on girls at 12, they were “just secrets I kept to myself.” Looking back now, she realises she was suicidal throughout secondary school. “Humour is a shield I use really well,” she shared wryly. Despite her class clown demeanour, Kirsten thought about getting hit by a car “so my existence wouldn’t disappoint anyone.” 

On a perfectly ordinary day when she was 16, Kirsten confronted herself in the mirror. “Sounds like a movie cliche now,” she said, “but I really had no one to talk to.” She told herself: “You are queer.” It was the first time she had said the word out loud. “Hearing it freaked me out,” she shared. But she sensed the importance of coming to terms with her sexuality, and repeated this simple statement until she broke down. “Not the most affirming coming out experience,” she noted, “but a necessary one.” 

It took Kirsten two years to even decide to tell someone else. At 18, she confided in one of her best friends. “There was literally no response,” Kirsten remembered. When Kirsten asked if they were still friends, her best friend finally replied: “I have to think about it.” It felt like a literal stab to her heart, but Kirsten still tried to laugh it off so her best friend wouldn’t feel awkward. Kirsten reflects on the experience now: “I’m incensed at how defenceless I felt, how much I had to hide and erase, just to get by or keep others comfortable.” 

After this rejection, Kirsten kept to herself, until she found her first queer community as an undergrad living in a sports hall on campus. “It was the first time I felt like I could let my guard down,” she says. “Chosen family saves lives.” Finding acceptance among peers and living in proximity to other LGBTQ individuals was an important turning point in Kirsten’s self-acceptance. At the same time, she wants to note: “Having lived with so much self-denial growing up and being forced to be so guarded left me with trust and boundary issues that I’m still grappling with till now.”

Soon after, Kirsten came out to her brother, who is Christian. He told her he would ask only once: “Do you want to go to church to pray about it?” When Kirsten said no, he said he would always love her just as much. “We’re not a hugging family,” she said, “but he wrapped me in a big bear hug. I don’t think he knew how important his acceptance was.” To her brother’s credit, he never asked Kirsten about church again, and protected everything she did from that point on.

Kirsten never thought she would come out to her deeply traditional Mandarin-speaking parents, who initially could not even accept that she was a filmmaker. “Unfortunately, they’re from the generation of Singaporeans that doesn’t even understand that ah kua is a slur,” she shares (for context: ah kua is a derogatory term used to insult effeminate guys). Kirsten only decided to come out to her parents three years ago, when her father had a health scare. She said the most important thing was that she was internally prepared to accept any outcome. “I popped a Xanax to keep calm and told my parents over dinner on a Saturday evening with my brother beside me for moral support,” she recalled. “And to my great surprise, their acceptance came readily.” 

Kirsten was completely shocked when her mum said in Mandarin: “I thought you would never mention this.” Kirsten’s mum then started rattling off various countries that accepted same-sex marriages, and her dad hollered across the table with a raised hand: “Even Lee Kuan Yew has no problems with homosexuals!” 

“I realised my parents must have been trying to reconcile themselves with my suspected queerness over the years in their own ways,” Kirsten said. “People do change.”

It felt surreal when her mum invited her partner, the writer Amanda Lee Koe, over for dinner the next day. “Queer couples never take parental acceptance for granted,” Kirsten  said, “it still feels unreal to be seen.” 

Timing is important, too. “My mum told me she’d never have been able to accept it if I came out 10 years earlier,” Kirsten said. “I’m grateful for how much she’s evolved, and our relationship has never been better.”

Q&A with Kirsten

Are there folks whom you’re still not out to today? If so, why?

Kirsten: 

I now see my queerness as a convenient litmus test that automatically helps me get rid of unwanted individuals from the get go. If my queerness makes you uncomfortable, it tells me something about your person, your values and your personal politics, and we’d probably never get along anyway, whether or not I was queer, so bye. 

I’m not a flamboyant person but especially in Singapore, I make it a point never to hide my sexual identity within my extended social sphere. I know that not everyone is in a position to do that, so within my capacity I hope to normalize queerness as much as I can, to soften the ground for those who find Singapore a tough environment to be themselves for any number of reasons.

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Kirsten: 

Whether you choose to come out or not, you’re fucking great the way you are. 

And if you do come out, whether anyone chooses to accept you or not has no bearing on who you are — it really says more about them than it does about you. Coming out, and the acceptance or rejection that you will receive, is completely separate from who you are as a person. Your worth is innate, and not dependent on how the world may receive you. 


Chris

Mid 30s | Gay cisgender man 

Pronouns: He / Him

Chris’s coming out story 

Chris had always been in denial about his sexuality since he was young, even though he’d felt attraction towards guys. In his mind, what he had felt towards cute guys doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility that he could be straight when he got older. (Spoiler: that didn’t happen.)

But things changed when Chris was in university. In a moment of passion, he exchanged a kiss with a male exchange student as they were dancing in a club — all in full view of his friends. But instead of reacting negatively, his friends (many of whom are queer) gave him a knowing smirk and told him that they’ve always known he’s gay and were just waiting for him to tell them. 

For Chris, coming out to his friends was the first time he internalised his sexuality — it was the first step he took to fully accepting his true self. 

When Chris furthered his studies in London, he experienced a heightened sense of freedom that he had never felt in Singapore. He had professors who put their pronouns on their official profiles, and saw queer and non-binary folks living true to themself all around him. 

Chris decided to come out to his sister via text message one night, when he was in a gay club in London. While he was enjoying his time with his friends, he saw a picture of pure euphoria around him: people were spending time with their friends, living their true selves, and they were happy. How could this be wrong? Chris typed a long message to his sister, and sent it out. 

His sister replied almost immediately, and was very supportive and affirming. But in their exchange of messages, one thing stood out: she appeared somewhat reluctant when Chris suggested they could go to Pink Dot together with her children (for context, Pink Dot is Singapore’s only government-approved annual pride protest). Instead of reacting to that, however, Chris decided to exercise more patience with his sister’s acceptance. 

“I realised that I’ve had my whole life to come to terms with my sexuality, but she only had that few minutes back then,” Chris told us. Since he came out to her, his sister has never stopped him or his boyfriend from interacting or playing with her children. 

Chris, however, still isn’t out to his parents today. When asked about it, he told us that even though he felt increasingly compelled to do so, he’s still very afraid that he would somehow “disappoint” his parents for being gay. Even though there were signs that his parents might have already guessed that he’s gay, his fear was powerful enough to hold him back from taking that step. 

“Every time I’m at the precipice, I would chicken out,” Chris said. 

Chris is happily partnered with a boyfriend of many years, and works as a teacher. 

Q&A with Chris

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Chris: 

You’re gay, damnit!

I would have sat down with myself, and introduced myself to the concept of queerness and being gay. Because the only reason I was in such denial at that age was because I didn’t understand what it was. It would have helped me accept myself earlier. 

It might also have helped me come out earlier, because there’s a certain recklessness and hope when you’re younger, the kind of “I want to live my life!” bravado. Maybe that’s what I needed when I’m younger.

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Chris: 

Do it at your own time. In wanting to come out myself, I’ve also asked many people about coming out, and the one thing I got from many of them is to do it at your own time. There’s no real “good time” to do it. 

Sometimes it’s calculated, sometimes it’s rash, and sometimes you never get the chance to do it, and that’s ok. Do it when you’re ready. 

And in the meantime, while you’re getting yourself ready, find your tribe. In finding your tribe, you might find the courage to come out, or even if you don’t come out to your parents, then at least your tribe is there. They can be your family! 


Elijah

Late teens | Bisexual non-binary person 

Pronouns: They / Them

Content warning: this section talks about familial rejection. 

Elijah’s coming out story 

Elijah realised that they’re bisexual when they were 14. Their friend casually introduced them to the term, and after 2 weeks of online research, they realised that all those strong friendly vibes they felt towards female classmates were really crushes. Everything they’ve felt in the past finally made sense. 

Coming out to friends was easy for Elijah, because all of them had no issue with it and just went on with their lives. But it didn’t feel enough — Elijah was close with their mum, and wanted her to know, too. For a long while after that, they tried finding the right time to break the news. But the right time didn’t present itself. 

Then one night, Elijah found themself confronted by their mum just after returning home. 

“Are you straight?” their mum asked in an accusatory tone. 

A long pause followed. This wasn’t the way Elijah wanted to break the news to their mum. And then they realised: she probably saw their Instagram post with a celebrity lesbian couple they’ve met earlier in the day, and drew her own conclusions. 

“No,” Elijah said, “I’m bi.”

“No, you’re still young. You don’t know anything yet. What am I supposed to tell our relatives? What will they think? Don’t tell anyone about this!” 

It was a rough night for both Elijah and their mum: they cried and argued, but never reached an understanding. Elijah’s mum might have acted out of concern, but her words made them feel as if being bisexual was a dirty secret that had to be hidden from view. 

That was a turning point in Elijah’s life — they stopped feeling safe at home. And even though they were closeted before that, the realisation that they now needed to consciously hide their true self at home felt unbearably crushing. 

***

About 3 years later, Elijah started participating in Model UN conferences. It was fun and mentally stimulating, but Elijah also felt increasingly uncomfortable referring to themself with “she / her” pronouns. Eventually, Elijah asked their mentor if they could use gender-neutral “they / them” pronouns instead, and was given the green light without much fuss. 

Elijah came to understand themself better over the next year or so, as they explored concepts of gender, their feelings about gender, and their feelings about themself. They realised that they were experiencing gender dysphoria — feelings of discomfort when a person’s gender doesn’t match their body — and didn’t like having a chest or wide hips. Eventually, they discovered that their gender lies beyond the binary of man / woman. 

“There was a time when I wondered whether I was a trans man, but I never really felt like a man or a woman when I looked at myself in the mirror,” Elijah told us. 

***

Over the years, Elijah and their mum continued putting in the work to open up and communicate better with each other. Their mum has since become much more accepting of their identity, and even expressed support for the advocacy work that Elijah does. Elijah runs the @myqueerstorysg Instagram account, and is starting university this year. 

Q&A with Elijah 

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Elijah: 

It’s ok to break away from the binary, from the things you’ve always thought to be true; it’s ok to explore your ideas. The world is so complex and isn’t just black and white; everything is just shades of grey. 

You’ll have to take your time to explore that and don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself the space to figure out who you are and what you want. Take time to appreciate the complexity around you, and even if you don’t fully comprehend it, just journey through it and enjoy it. 

And it doesn’t matter if people are unhappy with your identity — that’s on them, honestly. Just be who you are, and while there are certain periods of time where you have to stay closeted for your safety, there will be a day when you — or someone you inspire, or someone 10, 20 years down the road — can be openly and unapologetically queer. 

What would you say to younger queer folks in Singapore who are questioning their gender?

Elijah: 

In Singapore’s context, online resources are very helpful, because we barely have anything. Our education system is giving us nothing, TV channels are giving us nothing. So the internet is your best friend. TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix are your best friends. 

There is representation out there — it’s difficult to find it in Singapore, but you have to seek it. And it helps to see other queer people or queer characters — it helps you affirm your identity. 

Seek your community, because sometimes your friends or family might not be the most accepting people. Find your chosen family. Be there to support one another, and go through this queer experience in Singapore together. Because the hostility or discrimination that you’re facing is also experienced by a whole bunch of other people. You’re not alone in this. 

Also, don’t be shy to seek help from us, from those of us who have been around for a longer period of time. Whether it’s navigating the school system, healthcare questions, looking for safe religious spaces, etc. Ask for help! 

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Elijah: 

You have to pick your battles, especially if you’re financially dependent on your parents. If you know that they are very homophobic or transphobic, and that there’s a chance you might face hostility or get kicked out of the house, then maybe don’t come out to them for now. It sucks to have to suppress who you are, but you need a roof over your head and food on your table. 

At the same time, seek community outside. Even if you are closeted at home, find safe spaces where you can be who you are outside of the home (even online spaces)! 

There are also a lot of coming out resources that you can find online, like those that help you with terminology that you can use to explain when coming out, or sources that you can direct people to if they have questions about your identity.


Nain

Early 30s | Trans man 

Pronouns: He / Him 

Nain’s coming out story 

Nain had always felt uncomfortable wearing the girls’ school uniform since he was in kindergarten. He had also preferred keeping his haircut short, and so from a young age, he dressed and presented himself in a “tomboy-ish” way. 

When he was in secondary school, Nain learned about the existence of transgender women. He was fascinated to realise that a person’s gender doesn’t always align with the sex they were assigned at birth. That got him thinking: if trans women exist, does it mean that trans men exist too? 

Nain began researching online about gender identities and different methods of transitioning, and the more he read and learned about the transgender community, the more he understood those seemingly inexplicable feelings he had had about himself. Nain realised that he’s a trans man. 

There were several phases in Nain’s transition journey. For one, because he never dressed in skirts or feminine outfits since he was young, it was relatively easy for him to continue presenting as a man at social events. One year, his grandfather even gifted him a men’s baju kurung because it was something that he knew Nain would like to wear. Since then, Nain would present as a man at social events with his extended family — even for Hari Raya visits. 

Nain started medically transitioning at an older age, when he felt confident and ready to come out to his mum. At about 24, Nain told his mum that he planned to start hormone therapy at the public gender clinic. She didn’t fully understand why he wanted to do that, and was worried about him getting side effects from injecting hormones into his body. 

He reassured her that he had the same concerns too, and explained that that was why he wanted to do it through the public healthcare system. In the end, his mum told him that she would allow him to do it so long as it’s safe and that he remains unharmed by it. 

“I wanted to do it properly, with proper documentation and monitoring,” Nain told us. “I followed the dosage given by the gender clinic and followed through all the processes.” 

Nain continues going to his mosque for prayers whenever he can. When we asked if he felt a conflict between his faith and identity, he told us that he doesn’t believe that being trans makes someone a bad person. 

“Some people might say that being trans is a sin, but you can still do good, you can still be responsible and support your family, you can be a productive member of society,” Nain said. “Being trans doesn’t stop you from being a good person; it’s as simple as that.” 

Nain is out to most people today, and enjoys working as a Chief Officer in the seafaring industry. 

Q&A with Nain 

What would you say to your younger, 12-year-old self? 

Nain: 

Whatever you will go through will make you who you are. Be thankful for your struggles, because it will make you stronger and will make you the person you will become. People will tell you what you cannot do or be, but you will prove them wrong. 

What would you say to younger queer folks in Singapore who are questioning their gender?

Nain: 

Embrace the unique traits that make you who you are. When it comes to your gender or your identity, the person you should listen to is yourself. 

Learn to love yourself and be proud of yourself, so that the haters can’t get to you. 

What would you say to younger queer folks who are thinking of coming out? 

Nain: 

Find yourself first. Don’t blindly follow others, don’t think that you need to be like other people, or that you need to do what they are doing. You need to get to know yourself first, to get in touch with your inner soul. 

And once you’re sure of your identity, you will find it easier to go on with life, to come out, and more. 


Help is available 

If you’re currently struggling with your sexuality or gender identity, help is available. 

Brave Spaces 

A social service helpline that supports LBTQ+ women in Singapore. 

  • Hotline: +65 8788 8817 (Mon-Fri, 10am–6pm). 

Oogachaga

An LGBTQ+ support organisation that provides affirming counselling services. 

  • WhatsApp counselling: +65 8592 0609 (Mon-Thur, 7pm–10pm; Sat, 2pm–5pm)
  • Email counselling: CARE@oogachaga.com (typically responds within 72 hours)

The T Project

A local trans shelter that runs trans-focused services. 


Samaritans of Singapore 

An emergency helpline that provides confidential emotional support to individuals facing crises. 

  • 24-hour hotline: 1800 221 4444 
  • Email counselling: pat@sos.org.sg 

1 comment

  • This was lovely! I enjoyed this article. This has given me hope.
    Happy Pride Month people!

    Andie ,

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