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okI am reminded of this piece which was published in Leona Lo’s blog on November 12th back in 2008. I was already enduring a bad separation from my ex-husband which took years off my life to recover, while I was struggling with low finances, as well as being evicted from my room and jobless for months.

My friends at Titled World helped me fashion a donation drive, which for me today was a bad mistake because my character was later attacked by supporters of Seksualiti Merdeka and some lesbian groups after I exposed their elitist exploitation and glory politics.

Those were the darkest days of my life. It was then in my mind I considered just giving myself up for sex. I was younger and slimmer, and I still had some value left in me. My pride went out in humiliation knowing I am weak and down, with nothing to lose.

But it did not happen. Because I read the piece below. It reminded me why I became an advocate for transsexual women. Why I must stand against PT Mak Nyah’s abetment of sex trade. The reason I must be a shining example of a transgender women who is not a sex worker.

I know sex work is a choice. There is always a small convenient excuse to indulge in it because it is easy. To borrow an adage, not choosing sex work is hard but actually choosing sex work is harder, because sex work is the exact position most members of society want to place transgender women to further marginalize them, or worse.

I may not be where I deserve to be today, but still I am much better off than I was in those days. I am proud to say, I am still standing. If I can do it, so can anyone. There is always a way.

Shemales, Tranny, Ladyboys – these are invectives flung about by hate-filled individuals, mostly men, to flay and dehumanise transsexual women. It does not help that disproportionate numbers of trans women are in the sex and porn industry, compared to their non-trans counterparts. In Singapore, Orchard Towers and Changi Village are considered “rites of passage” for trans women. Our Road to Santiago? No way.

Make a stand today against the porn industry and the sex trade. In Singapore at least, there is no excuse for turning to prostitution. If you need me to write a letter to or contact a potential employer to clarify your situation, I will help you.

Ours is already a difficult journey – don’t make it more difficult. The next time someone – and this could be your friend, relative or casual acquaintance – starts to make the trite association between trans women and the entertainment industry, do not sit there and just smile. Stand up for who you are – a wonderful being who lives her life with pride and dignity.