January 16, 2021
1. Pink Dot SG is aware of the situation of a transgender student who has experienced discrimination from the Ministry of Education (MOE) and her junior college. In a Reddit post, she had shared that she might not be able to continue her junior college education whilst undergoing hormone therapy at the same time.
2. MOE has since issued a response denying that it had prevented the student from receiving hormone therapy. It further states its duty of care to all students, and that it respects the expertise of MOH’s healthcare professionals.
3. We wish to highlight a number of concerns that the MOE has yet to address:
– How will MOE ensure that schools are properly equipped to provide a safe, affirming environment for transgender students for genuine dialogue to occur?
– What is MOE’s policy regarding the care, protection and support of transgender students while they continue their education?
– Who are the relevant healthcare professionals or organisations that MOE collaborates with to ensure transgender students receive the appropriate support whilst in school?
4. Finally, we note that the MOE statement referred to the student in question with the wrong pronoun. Given that the student has unmistakably identified herself as female, the appropriate pronoun would be “her”. We urge MOE and others involved in this matter to accord the student the basic respect by using the right pronouns.
Such errors are symptomatic of the lack of understanding and empathy towards transgender issues by educators and education professionals. For many students who identify as transgender, or whose gender identity falls outside the boy/girl binary, schools are often not a safe and affirming space for them. This results in many transgender students being forced to hide their gender identities and be at risk of elevated mental problems, depression and anxiety.
5. If MOE is indeed committed to keep all students, including students diagnosed with gender dysphoria, safe, as it claims in its statement, we call on MOE and Minister Lawrence Wong to start demonstrating leadership on this issue by taking concrete steps:
– Affirming the existence of transgender students and working with students and parents to ensure that their education is not disrupted while they undergo medical treatment.
– Holding discussions with LGBTQ NGOs to understand the issues that LGBTQ students face in school.
– Formulate inclusive policies that care for, protect and support LGBTQ students, publish these policies on MOE’s website and familiarise parents, students, teachers and school counsellors on these policies.