Hard for transsexuals to find acceptance

SINGAPORE - There is still not much acceptance for transsexuals here, experts say.

That's because mainstream society is still not comfortable with the notion of transgender identity, say psychiatrists and people who work with the transgender community here.

Transsexuals strongly identify with the opposite sex and may undergo surgery and hormone therapy to obtain the necessary physical appearance.

There are at least 1,500 transsexuals here, suggests a 2007 study.

There are transwomen - born males, but want to be female, and also transmen - born female, but want to be male.

Both face real and persistent discrimination even today, says Mr Daniel Kaw, founder of SgButterfly, a group for transsexuals here.

"Many face discrimination in the workplace and at home," he says.

Dr Tsoi Wing Foo, 80, a psychiatrist in private practice, has encountered transsexuals who have been thrown out of the house or disowned by their parents.

Sometimes, the parents even threw away the clothes which their children used to cross-dress with.

Adds Dr Tsoi: "It's still hard for parents to accept children with such issues.

"Many feel it's unnatural to change the body you were born with.

"I always tell my clients to lie low and focus on their career first. This lets them afford treatment and surgery.

A resource guide for transgender people was launched in March this year by counselling agency Oogachaga.

This guide explains issues which typically affect transsexuals, and provides a summary of useful transgender-friendly resources.

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