Monday, 23 November 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance at FCC

So I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) Special Service at Free Community Church yesterday. To my knowledge, it is the only church in Singapore that observed TDOR and I went in the hope of gaining a better understanding of my trans brothers and sisters in Christ, and just to learn more about the experience of being trans in general.

The service started by us singing a couple of songs, and then Pastor Miak led us to observe a minute of silence for the 90 trans people that were killed worldwide. Seemed like the bulk of them were living in America and Brazil.

Then they collected an offering and showed a video on the life of an intersex person living in Hong Kong. At this point in time I was feeling rather confused because an intersex person is very much different from a trans person and there wasn't much of an explanation for that video. Nevertheless, it proved to be interesting and I just assumed they just wanted to raise awareness of those born intersex.

(On a separate note, I'm reading a very educational book on the topic titled, "Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and the Intersex in the Image of God" by Megan DeFranza and will be a doing a book review once I'm done with that. So watch this space!)

Then, they invited a panel of 6 people up on stage.

Well, although the panel didn't disappoint, I was a little underwhelmed, yet still gained much from it.

They had a panel of 5 people, 2 transmen, Christopher Khor and Mich Chow, 2 transwomen, Tricia Leong and Sherry Sherqueshaa and one gender neutral person, Alex. The facilitator was Pauline Ong and I must say she really did a good job.

So they started by sharing their stories about growing up trans (and gender neutral) in Singapore, the challenges they faced and a significant milestone in their lives. After that was done, Pauline asked a couple of questions and then they opened up the floor for a Q&A session.

Someone asked a good question of how, if they are unsure, to approach a person to ask for their preferred pronouns (he/him/his, she/her/hers etc.). Because if the person were cis-gender (not trans) wouldn't they be offended?

The answer, though not satisfactory, was this: Ask everyone you meet their preferred pronouns.

Another person asked about the use of public toilets and I was surprised to hear that some of them simply do not use public toilets at all. Wow. I never knew. It's a pretty tough life man. Thankfully, there are handicapped toilets which were made to good use.

I had a question, 3 in fact, but because I took so long to think of them, they ran out of time and I couldn't ask the questions.

What I wanted to ask was:

1. What abuse, if any, have you suffered from the Church or from Christians?
2. If so, how would you hope can be done about it?
3. If you are Christian, how do you reconcile your gender identity and your faith?

The third was actually the most burning question and I was surprised that it was not asked or addressed at all by any one of them, FCC being a church and all. But I suppose the focus was probably not on that and more on raising awareness of the struggles on trans people in general.

Well, it is good that a church actually organises a TDOR service and I hope more do, but it seems to me at the moment that in this country we are facing two extremes. One, radical inclusiveness, and the other, blatant disregard. Both have their pros and cons, but as I have said before in a previous post,

"In the silence of the church, people look to the world for guidance."

And on this note, I shall end.

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