MOE Invites Transgender Student To Approach School, But Netizens Say Statement Misgendered Her

The life of a transgender person isn’t easy, said one such individual on Reddit.

After being bullied in school, the student was said to have been diagnosed by doctors as suffering from gender dysphoria, and was about to undergo hormone therapy.

However, she claimed the Ministry of Education (MOE) intervened and blocked the treatment.

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MOE has said this account isn’t true, and they respect medical advice.

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However, netizens responded by slamming the ministry for misgendering the student, by using the pronoun “his” instead of “her”.

Student is a male-to-female transgender

In a viral Reddit post on Thursday (14 Jan), a student described herself as a male-to-female transgender.

That means though assigned as male at birth, she identifies as female.

Thus, she said she wanted to “dress like girls”, and sport a “typical female hairstyle”.

Student was bullied in primary school

As you might expect, this caused her to be bullied in school, especially since she went to an all-boys’ primary school.

When she entered a co-ed secondary school, life started getting better: She started making more friends, she said.

Finally, she went to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and was certified as having gender dysphoria.

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That’s defined by Encyclopedia Britannica as the distress experienced by someone who has a “significant incongruence” between the gender they were assigned at birth and the gender they identify with.

Hormone treatment recommended by doctors

After she was diagnosed, she informed her junior college and the MOE about it by giving them the doctor’s memo, she told The Straits Times (ST).

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Since hormone therapy was recommended, she said it was agreed among her, her parents and the doctor that she’ll start doing it when she turned 18.

Her classmates and subject tutors also supported her decision, she added.

All seemed to be going well at last, but little did she know that a curveball was going to be thrown.

Doctor allegedly had to cancel hormone therapy referral

When she turned 18 and was about to begin the hormone therapy, her doctor had to cancel the referral, she said.

She told ST that MOE had told the doctor not to refer people to hormone therapy without telling them first.

This caused her “further mental trauma”, she said.

She also questioned what right MOE had to be “interfering” with her medical care.

School allegedly told her to wear boys’ uniform

Worse was to come, she said, when her school management allegedly told her to wear the boys’ uniform.

She was also to cut her hair according to the stipulated hairstyle for boys, she added.

The student was told that if she received hormone therapy and couldn’t fit into the boys’ uniform as a result, she would be expelled, she claimed.

She also alleged that her principal told her she would be “disruptive to the school environment” if she presented herself as female.

Photo for illustration purposes only.
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According to ST, she hasn’t attended school since it started this year.

She may also be forced to transfer to a polytechnic, she said.

MOE says it’s not in a position to interfere with medical treatment

In a Facebook post on Saturday (16 Jan), MOE denied interfering with the student’s hormonal treatment, simply saying that part of the story was “not true”.

The ministry said medical treatment is a matter for the family to decide on, as such they’re “not in a position to interfere”.

As MOE and the school work closely with MOH’s healthcare professionals, they respect their professional advice, the statement added.

MOE invites student to approach school

MOE also invited the student to talk to the school, saying,

We invite the student to approach the school to clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better.

The ministry also encouraged students who experience “unkind behaviour” from peers to approach teachers or school leaders.

Netizens accuse MOE statement of misgendering

A number of netizens spotted something in MOE’s statement.

The ministry had referred to the student using the pronoun “his” instead of “her”.

This is despite the student saying on Reddit that she uses the pronouns “she/her”.

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Thus, many comments on MOE’s Facebook post accused the ministry of misgendering the student.

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One was of the opinion that since the ministry should ensure the school is a safe environment, they shouldn’t put the student in a more vulnerable position.

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However, another netizen defended MOE by saying that they’re obliged to use the gender defined in the student’s NRIC until it’s legally changed.

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Some netizens say student shouldn’t be asked to come forward

Other netizens took issue with MOE asking the student to come forward herself, suggesting that the ministry should instead be more proactive.

MOE could speak to the school on her behalf and guide her in her journey, he added.

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Another commenter pointed out that asking the student to come forward puts her at risk.

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Transgender student says MOE’s denial contradicts doctor

In an update on the original Reddit post, the transgender student acknowledged MOE’s statement.

However, she said it contradicted what her doctor said to her.

She added that she’s sure her classmates can vouch for the veracity of her story.

The student also accused MOE of misgendering her.

Read her full post on Reddit here.

Society can do better in being inclusive

Whatever their stories are, it’s certain that transgender people face many difficulties in life that cisgendered people will never know about.

Thus, society as a whole can do better in making their lives easier by being inclusive.

After all, it doesn’t take much effort to accept someone for who he or she is. But the benefit to them is immense.

Hopefully, the student can reach a resolution with her school and MOE on a way that she can continue her education in peace.

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Featured images adapted from Google Maps and Sharon McCutcheon @ Unsplash.

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