Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general and Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh has drawn praise on social media after he shared about his encounter with transgender parent Fanny Ler, who used to live in his constituency.
Ler had earlier shared her story of raising her daughter Evelyn, with Zula.sg — a new website aimed at empowering women. In the interview, Ler — who was born a male — said that she would have taken her secret to her grave had her daughter not consented to her living as a woman.
Ler recounted that the boy that she was started cross-dressing when his sister gave him a dress to wear at the age of ten. Having felt “cool” when he had put on the dress, Ler soon took an interest in wearing dresses but considered it just a “weird hobby” and tried to hide his feminine side from others.
At the age of 23, Ler fell in love and got married to his daughter’s mother. Seven years later, the couple divorced due to a “personal reason” not connected to Ler’s transgender issues. Ler soon became a single parent, caring for his daughter Evelyn and elderly mother.
Three years after the divorce, Ler stumbled upon a question online about why guys like to cross-dress. Sharing that this question had “haunted” her for a number of years, Ler did more research online and stumbled upon a local transgender website.
She said: “I was so so happy because I finally know that there are people out there who are like me.”
Ler then considered transitioning but knew that she couldn’t make such a decision without the understanding of her daughter, as she knew her decisions would have ramifications on Evelyn’s life.
“I can’t just do what I like. At the end of the day, it is back to the very important point which is my daughter. Whatever decision I make, it would more or less affect her and her future life,” explained Ler.
Unsure of how to broach the subject with Evelyn, Ler shared her thoughts in a document she had saved to her computer and asked Evelyn to read it. Understanding her parent’s feelings, Evelyn responded that it is important that Ler does what makes her happy.
Sharing that this news “never really felt out of place.”, Evelyn revealed that her mother and her made a promise to each other after the divorce that “it’ll be us against the world and it will always be the two of us taking care of each other, especially after my grandma passes away.”
Ler asserts: “I don’t want to lose my daughter. That’s the most important part, I don’t want to lose her. And, like, what I have promised her, if her answer is no, I will actually keep my own secret and bring it to my grave. That’s something I can hold onto — no matter how difficult my journey is going to be.”
Revealing that her mother’s transition solidified their bond, Evelyn said that the process showed that her mother really respects her. Sharing that her mother has always put family first, Evelyn re-affirmed her love for her mother.
Sharing the video interview on his Facebook page, Pritam Singh indicated that Ler could be the first transgender individual that he had conversed with.
Revealing that he had never spoken with a transgender person until he became an MP, Pritam recounted: “Fanny came to see me sometime in 2013 as she was a resident in the Eunos ward of Aljunied GRC and needed some assistance on a matter. Before she shifted homes, I would see Fanny now and then in the constituency and she was always polite and thankful.”
Pritam proceeded to note that life in Singapore for transgender persons and their families is difficult, especially given the stigma against such sexual minorities. Asserting that it is easier to live in a closed, judgmental world instead of reflecting and helping those in need, he urged Singaporeans to inculcate a spirit of tolerance for those who are different.
The opposition politician wrote: “In Singapore, one seldom learns about sexual minorities in a formal setting. Be it in NS or in schools for example, whatever one learns about sexual minorities in the first instance is more often than not, negative and usually derogatory.
“Life for such individuals and their families is hard, challenging and difficult – until acceptance makes a breakthrough. We need not make it any harder for them. A spirit of tolerance for who they are and due consideration for those who are different from us will make the world a better place for everyone.
“It is far easier to live in a closed world – where we revel living in judgment of others. Much harder to reflect, step up and help others get through a tough day, or in some cases, a tougher life.”
Read his post in full HERE.