amidst a journey marked by struggles, mislabeling, and battles with internalised pain, shania found solace within the nurturing embrace of the T Project. in this interview, she shares her experiences of camaraderie, the importance of counselling services, and the transformative power of living authentically.
“at The T Project, I got so much support to live as myself. u was so glad when i first started Oestrogen. i began to feel good about my body, and as my breasts developed…i finally felt like my hidden self was set free."
our pride campaign this year revolves around the theme 'come together.' what does that mean to you?
S: The idea of "Coming Together" to me means respecting one another, regardless of our differences. It involves embracing neurologically diverse individuals and going beyond societal norms tied to gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical appearance. Instead, we see each person for their true self and acknowledge their inherent worth. It means embracing the diversity of life and bringing love across.
My time at The T Project holds some of my most cherished memories of coming together. Being surrounded by fellow trans individuals meant having a strong support system, as we all shared a deep understanding of each other's journeys.
residents helped me learn how to take care of my dressing and makeup. The affirmation I received, such as being called "eh girl," was incredibly empowering, and with their unwavering support, my transition exceeded my expectations.
"everyone would support me by lending a helping hand with makeup or with outfit adjustments…The atmosphere is always about supporting each other, never harming."
why is it important to have spaces like The T Project in singapore?
S: Having spaces like The T Project in Singapore is incredibly important. When transitioning, our bodies undergo a second puberty. During this phase, our bodies change back to how we were as children, to around nine to ten years old. I experienced that - I had a tendency to cry a lot. If I was in a different space, people would have probably questioned why a forty-year-old was behaving like a child. However, at The T Project, others who have undergone hormone therapy, like me, understand these behaviours and offer helpful advice, such as getting rest or consulting a doctor.
“The T Project is a space where we are guided, not judged and have the support to live as our gender-affirming selves."
what does love mean to you in 2023?
S: Love means accepting people for who they are and embracing their different attitudes. It's about offering unconditional support and guidance while giving them a listening ear. Just being present is so important. Throughout my journey, I've been fortunate to have many people present for me, including family and friends who may not fully understand my experience but would still express that they were always there if I needed someone to talk to.
For instance, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from my father when I finally shared my struggles with him.
“one day, he called me and said, "i love you. if you choose to be a woman, i accept it, but strive to be a proper woman, like your mom" it brought me tears to my eyes because i knew it wasn't easy for him, having witnessed my transformation from a boy to man. his acceptance was a reflection of his love."
can you share a message or advice for others in the lgbtqia+ community in singapore?
S: Always be honest with yourself. In Singapore, we have access to valuable resources and experts who always prioritise confidentiality. For example, The T Project is an incredibly safe space to transition. So my advice is to seek out professional support.
It’s important to remember that the LGBTQIA+ community is incredibly diverse, and I've faced the challenge of being mislabeled based on my sexual orientation rather than my true gender identity. This was a painful experience, but, with the unwavering support of my mother, a psychotherapist, and the guidance of specialized doctors, I was able to recognize and address my gender dysphoria.
Despite starting my transition in my forties, seeking professional support and advice while remaining true to myself was what truly helped me. So, I encourage everyone to seek the help they need and embrace their true selves unconditionally. It's not about seeking validation from others; it's about accepting yourself and finding happiness within.
"the support my parents gave me and continue to give me helped me embrace my true self and embark on hormone therapy. hormone therapy improved my confidence and thinking because i finally started to feel like myself. it's remarkable how those tiny pills can work wonders."
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
Special Thanks Bessie Ye, Vanessa Ng