Divorced S'pore man set to marry again - this time as a woman

SINGAPORE - She used to be a husband and father. He used to be criticised for his "offensive" comments about the transgender community.

Now they are set to become man and wife.

They first met at a private event about transgender issues in 2007. She was still a man then, but dressed like a woman.

Ms Fanny Ler, 39, who was Mr Frankie Ler until 2010, remembers her husband-to-be, Mr Zack Ling, 35, as a crass man who made misguided remarks about the community on SgButterfly. org.

"People on the forum were offended by his words. They thought he was after sex," she said.

She took the initiative to contact Mr Ling to correct his remarks. Then Mr Ling came across her Facebook page by accident and they started chatting. He said: "I remembered her from before. She had tried to correct my insensitivity and I thought that was quite considerate of her."

He was attracted to her sense of humour and amiable personality. After a few sessions of online chatting, he made the first move to ask her out.

"I bought flowers for her and asked her to go on a date. I don't see that she is different. I see her just as another woman," he said.

But Ms Ler, a human resources executive, had reservations.

"I asked him whether he could accept that the person sleeping next to him will have facial hair in the morning," she said.

To her delight, Mr Ling said he didn't care.

From then on, they dated like any other couple would in a relationship.

But their friends and families, especially Mr Ling's, were less accepting of their relationship.

When he announced the news to his family, one of his two younger brothers said: "This marriage is not going to be beneficial to you. It's not normal."

Puzzled by the choice of words, Mr Ling asked him: "What is normal? A wife who can give you a son? How about infertile women? Would you call them abnormal?"

But the most vocal opposition came from his father.

"He was angry when he found out we were seeing each other, but he accepted our relationship as he thought it was just a phase in my life," said Mr Ling.

But when Mr Ling announced their plans to get married last month, his father blew his top and sent a text message to his son: "Why must you marry Fanny? Why can't you find someone normal?"

Mr Ling's mother then told him that their wedding had better be a quiet affair with only a few guests.

Ms Ler said: "But I didn't want a quiet wedding. Most of my friends are from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. I want them to be there."

The couple will be holding their wedding at the Free Community Church, which accepts same-sex and transgender relationships.

Mr Ling's family will not be attending the wedding.

The couple said they did not plan it this way to alienate their families.

"We just want to tell people that we are normal people too," Ms Ler said.

Mr Ling still hopes his family will turn up.

"At the end of the day, they are my parents, I'll never turn my back on them, even though they had turned their backs on me," he said.

Ms Ler's father is dead and her mother is living in a foster care home. Her sister, who supports her relationship, will be attending the wedding.

The couple have set a date for their big day next year - Feb 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

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