Singapore—Andrea Razali is by all accounts a beautiful woman. But Andrea, since she is commonly referred to only by her first name, also carries the distinction of being the country’s first transgender model. She is also a multi-hyphenate— as the 28-year-old is a model-businesswoman-makeup artist-activist all in one.
Her journey, however, has not by any means been an easy one. In a recent interview, she said that she knew she had been born in the wrong body since the age of 5, and had always had an affinity for feminine things.
Earlier this year, she told Zula, a website for Singaporean millennial women, that as a child she would try on her mother’s clothes whenever she wasn’t home and begged for toys such as Powerpuff Girls merchandise.
“I would play with them. I think that’s when I knew I wasn’t “normal….
I was very reserved. I wasn’t the orthodox loud, play soccer, play football kind of boy.”
As an often teased overweight boy with a squeaky voice, Andrea developed gender and body dysphoria. “I didn’t feel like I was in the right body, and I hated how I looked,” she told Zula.
Of all the places to discover that she was trans, Andrea began to find this out when she was in National Service at the age of 19, upon watching videos of other trans people on YouTube.
She added, “I didn’t want to be handsome,” talking about how uncomfortable it made her when girls started telling her she was handsome.
Andrea went through the medical procedures and surgeries that completed her transition, and married her now ex-husband at 26 and lived with him in Denmark, only to divorce him a year later as the relationship turned out to be abusive.
As difficult as it was, this courageous and independent young woman picked up the pieces of her life and fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a model. She told Zula, “I went to Phantom Models and said, ‘Hey guys, do you want me as a model?’ and they graciously accepted me into their agency.”
Later that year, she started her own businesses.
Andrea was recently interviewed for the first episode of Coconuts TV’s new series called Being, on her experience as a transgender woman here in Singapore.
“You get a fair bit of Singaporeans who are okay with it…and then you get a fair bit of Singaporeans who are completely against it because it’s just something which they never really encountered before in their lives.”
Andrea told Coconuts’ Byron Perry that in countries such as Thailand, where being trans is more common, people are a lot more welcoming. “It’s like seeing a regular person across the road, it’s nothing big.”
She told Mr Perry about having waited to transition until she was sure.
“I was gay.. for most of my life, actually. I thought I was a gay man. It turns out that I wasn’t a homosexual, I was transsexual.”
Andrea said when she took the first pill during the course of her transitioning, “that was the most at home I ever felt in my body in the 23 years I’ve lived my life.” -/TISG