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12 Jun 2001

singapore group petitions for re-opening of gender clinic

A group is gathering signatures to demand the reopening of the Gender Reassignment Surgery Clinic in Singapore.

In light of the recent closure of the last sex change clinic in Singapore, a group of people is banding together to garner support for a petition urging the National University Hospital's (NUH) medical board to review the status on Gender Reassignment Surgery and for the authorities to re-open the clinic.

NUH's Gender Identity Clinic was quietly closed two months ago when its supervisor resigned. The clinic was the last hospital to perform sex change operations in the country. Prior to this, Singapore was considered one of the leading countries for sex-change operations for the last 30 years.

Jael, a co-initiator of the movement said that the petition, which is now being circulated among the Singapore GLBT community, seeks to also create awareness. The 21-year-old who is also the founder of FTMs in Asia, a FTM support group, told Fridae, "People are ready to come out and speak up now."

While acknowledging that the petition may not be successful, he feels that it is important to have the "authorities and society to understand the needs of the transgendered community and they shouldn't be left out in any way due to their uniqueness and to let fellow community members know that they're not alone."

Two weeks ago, the Project Eyeball reported that the Ministry of Health (MOH) was in the dark about the clinic's closure. When asked to comment on the closure of the Gender Identity Clinic, it also added that hospitals have the discretion to decide if they want to perform such procedures. There are those who feel that the government is distancing itself from making an official stance on the issue.

Ian, 26 who is also a co-initiator of the petition said, "I think the government is just taking a "backseat" stance. They have pushed the issue all onto NUH and say it's their decision to make. It is a controversial issue, so I don't believe the government will take any proactive stance to help the transgendered community recover their rights to any medical assistance here in our home country."

He said that he had known about the impending closure since late last year and does not understand the reasons for not finding a suitable person to fill the vacant role in the clinic, as the supervisor's move was anticipated.

While more than 60 signatures have been collected so far, the initiators of the petition hope to collect at least 100 signatures before the petition is sent to NUH.

People who wish to find out more and/or willing to sign the petition should contact eafe@fridae.com or jael@fridae.com.


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