shafiq's life has been defined by adversity, from an unsupportive upbringing and juggling multiple jobs to personal struggles. in the depths of despair, a glimmer of hope emerged through a stable partnership, only to be shattered by the tragedy of loss. amidst his darkest moments, shafiq discovered solace and support at The T Project, a beacon of hope for the transgender community.



“at The T Project, it’s incredibly heart-warming because, at the end of the day, we are all strangers. everyone has every right to say that they are too tired to interact after work, but they still reach out and talk to me because i’m one of their own … they are always trying to include me in their plans to make sure i’m not alone.”

our pride campaign this year revolves around the theme 'come together.' what does that mean to you?


S: The theme ‘Come Together’ means being there for a friend, even if we don't have a close bond. It means being open and receptive because, in tough times, I want to be someone they can turn to.

One of the most challenging periods of my life was when I received my diagnosis. I didn't know who to talk to because it felt like everyone was keeping it hush-hush. Then I remembered an acquaintance I had met during my teenage years. I noticed he was open about his status, so I decided to reach out. I told him about my situation and how lost I felt. Despite his busy schedule, he took the time to meet me after work. He patiently talked me through everything and even introduced me to other social groups I could join.


"although those groups didn't resonate with me as much, i was grateful to have been included, even if only for a short time. it reassured me that i wasn't alone and that others understood what i was going through."


why is it important to have spaces like The T Project in singapore?


S: Having spaces like The T Project is incredibly important. They provide a dedicated centre where individuals curious or grappling with their sexuality or gender identity can seek assistance from trained counsellors or simply have someone to talk to. 

During my journey, such resources were not readily available. I had to find my way by sleeping around with older men to escape my abusive family. This took a toll on my well-being and led me down a path involving drugs.


S: One of my fondest memories at The T Project is when I felt sad and lost in my thoughts. Despite being strangers, the residents passing through the shelter always extended a helping hand, understanding my story. 

After a challenging childhood, I finally found love and settled down with my partner, who I then tragically lost to an overdose. This devastating loss left me with nothing—I lost my job, home, and the will to carry on.




“during this difficult time, the t project took me in as an emergency case, even though it primarily serves as a home for trans individuals. they provided me with guidance and support, offering me the much-needed adult guidance i had never experienced before."

what does love mean to you in 2023?


S: To me, love means putting yourself first. I know it’s hard to digest this, but a course I took phrased it like this: If you keep working to pay your bills, when will you pay your bills to yourself? What about what you owe yourself? 


This realisation hit me hard because I used to work multiple jobs to cover my school fees, rent, and other expenses. I was always rushing for more jobs, and in the process, I lost touch with friends and grew distant from my family. 

I realised I could never be able to truly open myself up to others if I neglected my well-being. It became clear that if I didn’t prioritise self-care, relationships would begin to feel burdensome and insincere. You can't pour from an empty cup. If you want to be there for someone, you must first be there for yourself.

can you share a message or advice for others in the lgbtqia+ community in singapore?


S: I would advise them not to blindly accept everything adults say about specific communities or professions. Reach out, talk to more people, and connect with influential figures like June, who are always available. Learn from these strong and inspiring women and understand their causes by getting involved in these types of initiatives within the community.


“it's not always about glamour, sex, drugs, or drinking. there are other aspects of the community that young people often misunderstand. for example, being gay doesn't mean conforming to certain body standards or being attracted to specific individuals. real life is more diverse than that."



S: Consider what truly matters to you and how your choices will impact your future as you grow older. It's possible to navigate the LGBTQIA+ journey without relying solely on paths involving sex, drugs, or sex work. While some individuals may choose those routes, I encourage you to explore alternative options and discover different paths. Ultimately, it's your decision to make. I want you to make informed choices rather than settle for the only option you know. As long as your decisions are well-informed, I support whichever path you choose.


Our ‘Love+’ scarves are available in a spectrum of colours to symbolise love, unity, and interconnections.
All profits from the sale of the scarves go directly to The T Project, that proudly supports the transgender community in Singapore. Read more about their work here.

Illustrations Sarah Kelly Ng

Interviewed by Shenali Wijesinghe

Featuring Shafiq

Special Thanks Bessie Ye, Vanessa Ng

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