Kiren Talks, I Listen

Lucky me!  After three decades of silence, Kiren and I reconnected, right before I moved to London.


It’s an effortless friendship.  On a very superficial level, aside from my husband, there isn’t another friend whose liver is as compatible with mine!


Kiren is one of those charismatic beings- extremely intelligent, all heart, with a wicked sense of humour.  In Junior High, he was president of the student council. He wore the requisite blue pinafore with box-like pleats, starched white blouse,  and felt forever, in drag.


Growing up in Singapore (1970s-80s), Kiren explained there never was the vocabulary to help him articulate what he was grappling within.  Singapore is also a very small city; sometimes with a lack of much needed personal space.

You cough in Jurong, and everyone in Changi hears it!  Kiren aptly said.

Everyone insisted on buying me dolls, and I hated it!  I remember- 5/6 years-old, one doll I really liked, which was the equivalent of an Action Man, and all I remember thinking, that’s what I’m going to be when I grow up, and then realising very clearly, that ain’t going to happen… and then dealing with puberty… the real slap in the face.


…and I shoved it to the darkest recesses of my mind.  Because I had my own trans-phobia to deal with.  “Trannies” in Changi… when it first started, people didn’t laugh with you, they laughed at you… And everything I saw with regards to transsexuality had to do with alcohol, nightlife, and prostitution- absolutely nothing I identified with, or aspired to… So then the life of compromise begins; coming out as a lesbian, identifying as lesbian, because it’s easier than being, trans.


My marriage broke down for mainly the same reasons that many marriages do.  One big reason was the lack of communication on my part, and also, I felt like a fraud.

Are you scared, Kiren?  Because I am scared. Is it really necessary to assault your body like this?

Oh YAH!  It’s more frightening than anything I have ever done, and I have done a few frightening things!  I do go through moments feeling stunned by myself; what have you done!  But I think it’s healthy.  It would be terribly unhealthy if I’m blasé about it… that’s called, denial.


But in this particular city, country, I have a fantastic medical team.  A GP, a gender specialist, counsellors, surgeons, all treating me with an immense amount of respect, and dignity, and looking out for my best interests.  At work, everyone has been so supportive of my decision.  My family is supportive.


Being 45 is significant as it is the mid point of mid life!  That means henceforth I will begin to have more life behind me, than ahead of me.  I’ve decided that how I’ve lived for the first half of my life cannot continue into the second half; it is intolerable, unacceptable.


Trans-men have individual histories and narratives… there isn’t one single trans-narrative…It’s encouraging and important to myself, that  I’m not a freak, and it’s perfectly ok, being me.  Being trans is just a part of me.

4 thoughts on “Kiren Talks, I Listen

  1. Meet you in Brazil, London, Singapore or somewhere in between – I shall leave the task of triangulating to you, Clive – or you could just make another documentary and screen it in London again! Hope to catch up with you soon.


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