Alden Boon

Co-founder of The T Project June Chua: Beyond Our Transgender Identity, See Us as People, as Individuals



June Chua The T Project Pink Dot Singapore Transgenders

Residents also get to undergo empowerment as well as Love and Grow programmes, the topics centring on suicide awareness, self-esteem, depression, and more. While there is a high suicide rate amongst transgender people, and while they may be susceptible to depression, June notes an important nuance: “For depressed transgender individuals, their gender identities are not the cause of their depression. They have already chosen to live their lives as their authentic selves, and they are happy. They are depressed because of the challenges that come after their transitions — they are discriminated; they cannot find a job, and hence have no financial stability.”

These programmes are supported by advocacy groups such as AWARE, and rather surprisingly, religious groups. Because their scriptures dictate that gender is binary, many religious followers may interpret sex-change operations as mutilation, a sin. It is an uphill challenge reaching out to religious groups, but it is one that June relishes, for she wants to open their hearts and minds. “You can approach us with the notion that we are living in sin. But The T Project’s residents are not just ‘transgenders’; they are people, your friends. You’re not speaking with a ‘transgender’; you’re speaking with a human being. When you see just our gender identities, you see only limitations. When you come and help people who are marginalised, when you come and show love for your fellow Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim, it speaks volumes about the person you are. It is true God’s work.”

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The world will be more peaceful if everyone is allowed to be his or her own true self.

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This year, June is excited to test-drive new initiatives: Buddy System; and Reno T. “Transgender individuals face problems finding a suitable roommate when applying for rental assistance. The Buddy System matchmakes two residents, so that they can apply for a rental unit under the joint singles scheme. And if this takes off, we can start Reno T, a programme where we ask for donations in the form of furnishings. Most of the residents have very few possessions, so it is my hope we can make their new homes a comfortable one.”

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.