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12 Jun 2001


Jael, the founder of FTMs in Asia, talks about growing up, his family and community.

Jael is a 21-year-old female to male transsexual (FTM) who founded two support groups, FetchPride - the community group for lesbians in Malaysia and FTMs in Asia, a breakaway group for FTMs in the region. Originally from Malaysia, he now works as a multimedia designer in Singapore.

About FTMs in Asia

æ: Can you tell us more about FTMs in Asia and how it started?

jael: FTMs in Asia is actually the baby boy of my other "community" FetchPride - the community group for lesbians in Malaysia. Upon my self-discovery, I also discovered many FTM-identified members in Fetch. Hence, I sorted out both the groups. At the same time, I've got some Asian FTM friends that were looking for an Asian FTM group. There wasn't any at that point of time.(that was two years back) So we started a small circle at then the well-liked ecircles.com. Now, we've come out of the cyberlife. Had gathering and gym session organised.

æ: What are FTMs in Asia's objectives?

jael: FTMs in Asia targets to give support to fellow female-to-male transsexuals, to those whom are in their "questioning" or "confusion" stage, to those in their transition (pre-op or post-up), to family, friends and significant other. It's where we share our experiences and our thoughts, share our views and our feelings. We aim to prepare each other to fit into the society with the new life.

æ: How many members do you have and which countries are they from?

jael: We're very much web-based and dependent on free community sites. Previously at ecircles.com, we had about 50 members. Mostly from Malaysia and Singapore and others including Japan, Thailand, Australia and a couple from the States. Now we're located at www.communityzero.com/FTM

æ: How has FTMs in Asia affected the transgendered community?

jael: Personally, it gave me the sense of belonging, knowing that I'm not alone. I presume the same goes for the rest of the guys. With the community group, we are able to relate to each other more closely considering we're of the same ethnic group.

About JL

æ: Have you ever encountered prejudice because of your gender/sexuality? How did you deal with it?

jael: That's for sure at some point of time in my life. I normally just ignore it unless it crossed my borderline of patience. I try my best to gain respect from what I'm worthy of. If someone were to judge me any lesser because of my gender or sexuality, the problem doesn't lies with me. It lies with the person.

æ: What do you think we need most in Asia's gay and lesbian community?

jael: I think we need to more open. Not in the sense that you come out and tell the whole world about yourself. But be more open in expressing oneself. Asians are constantly hiding themselves, fearing rejection yet yearning for acceptance. If one does not open up, there is bound to be misconception. How can we expect others to accept us when we ourselves aren't able to speak for ourselves.

æ: In the context of being an Asian transgendered person, do you have any personal role models/inspirations?

jael: No particular one person. My role models are all veteran activists that made a whole lot of difference for the community.

æ: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to come to terms with his or her sexuality?

jael: Be open and subjective when it comes to soul-searching. Once you've found an answer to your questions, accept it. Do not deny your feelings. Your heart is where the magic spell is. There isn't a definite right path or a wrong pathonly which is a better path. Accept yourself so others could accept you.
æ: When did you realise you were transgendered? What was the process like?

jael: I knew I'm different at a young age, about 5 or so. But didn't realised the problem until much later, maybe in my teens. Then, the closest "term" that could well describe me was a butch. But years later, I finally was able to acknowledge that I'm a trans. it took me a lot of soul-searching to finally acknowledge my inner feelings. Questions have been lingering in my mind for years. Now that I've come to terms with myself, I'm glad I finally know my self.

æ: Are you out to family and friends? If yes, could you tell us something about it? Is it an important factor in your life?

jael: I'm not out to my parents as yet. My family is the typical religious Christian family. My parent is a preacher and hold on to bible teachings very closely. That makes coming out to them extremely difficult. Besides, they're of old age. I'm keeping to myself now mostly for the well being of their health. I'm sure they already have a rough idea and won't be surprise if I were to tell them. I'm in the middle of my transition and will tell them when the time is right.

As for my siblings, they know about me all along. They did not deny my "self" nor acknowledge my "self". Let's just say, everyone's praying that things will change tomorrow. As for my friends, I'm out to all of them and have no problem with them. Coming out to me is crucial, although I have not come out to my parents. It's the matter of time that one has to do it. One can't be living in the shell for their whole life. Being honest to your loved ones is an essence to a happy family.

æ: Do you believe in monogamous or open relationships? Are you in one?

jael: It all depends what one seeks in a relationship. For me, I seek for stability and commitment. Thus, a monogamous relationship. I'm in a beautiful one now.

æ: What kind of underwear person are you?

jael: Hhhhmmm depends where and when. Range from boxers to jockeys.

æ: What's your favourite CD?

jael: No particular one. But I always love my brother's production.

æ: What kind of pet do you have? Why?

jael: I've got two dogs and six cats in Malaysia. Unfortunately, I don't see them often now that I'm living in Singapore. I miss them so much.

Aprs Interview

æ: Tell us something about your first sexual experience?

jael: Umm awkward and dumb.

æ: What is your favourite fantasy?

jael: My fantasy shall remain only in my fantasy.

æ: What's the stupidest pick-up line you've ever heard?

jael: Heard this at one of the gay parties... someone was asked by the host "what would your pickup line be" and that person said "Am I good looking enough for you?" I think that's dumb.

æ: Which is sexier, mind or meat?

jael: They have to compliment each other.

æ: Towel or tissue?

jael: Tissue. I'm lazy... besides, my girlfriend always carry tissues with her.

For more info on FTMs in Asia, contact jael@fridae.com.



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