To empower queer women towards greater involvement and presence in the community
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Advocacy for LBTQ women's rights at CEDAW
Sayoni was at the United Nations in Geneva in October 2017 to bring Singapore LBTQ women's issues to the forefront. The CEDAW Committee heard our concerns and raised recommendations related to LBTQ women in their Concluding Observations for the Singapore government.
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Sayoni is a Singapore-based feminist, volunteer-run organisation that works to uphold human rights protections for queer women, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. We organise and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics.

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The rebuttals they commonly gave:
‘Yes, i know what you are saying... but it’s just not natural.’
‘Sure, but would you date someone promiscuous?’
‘I don’t feel comfortable.’
‘It’s just not right.’
... and other fluffy explanations.

Don’t tell me ‘it doesn’t feel right’.
There’s a reason why you don’t think it feels right - examine it! State a concrete reason and subject it to rigorous examination.

One of the things that agitated me that evening was what i termed ‘the compensation model’:
My friend said, ‘There was once i thought how nice it would be if she [then girlfriend] is my mother...’ and she went on to share how her mother behaves like a man and she feels like she has 2 fathers in the house. Immediately i knew that her regular attendance at Christian care groups has taken its toll on her.

I gave the table a thump, ‘I know why we are gay... Because our fathers are so wonderful, we don’t need a father figure in our lives... therefore we are gay!’
She responded at once, ‘You can’t say that...’
‘Why not?’ i wanted her to scrutinize her way of thinking. But she just shook her head and dismissed the question.

That’s the problem: We don’t question.

If inadequate parents cause us to seek our partners of a certain gender, then bisexuals should come from the worst families. Daughters should be deprived of their fathers and sons of their mothers in order to walk the ‘straight path’. Maybe i can explain my preference for androgynous partners with this model too- my mum is too much of a feminine woman (with her love for crafts and home-making) and my dad too much of a masculine man (with his love for various sports) and therefore i decided to get some balance in my life!

Another thing that she brought up that evening was about transsexuals.
‘They should just accept the sex that they are born with. Why do they want to change?’
There are so many things wrong with this statement i didn’t know where to start. Should i talk about the difference between sex and gender? Should i talk about how tying behavior with certain sexes help perpetrate discrimination [no schooling, no voting for women] from eons before? By the time i was through, she said that some things should be accepted even if the transsexuals don’t like how they look.

That was the final straw. I question: why doesn’t the church talk about aesthetic surgeries/procedures like breast implants, botox injections? These are unnatural. On top of that, such ‘beauty’ treatments are saying that your worth is tied to your beauty. Many women feel better about themselves after surgery. Shouldn’t the church who preaches that your worth is in Christ act against such a norm? But they don’t. It’s pure hypocrisy to say that someone cannot alter their sex because they feel like they are born into the wrong body.

This friend walked away from dinner that day retaining the same thoughts of condemnation towards her sexual orientation. Her church friends have called on her to remain celibate. ‘If you can’t be straight, just don’t do it.’ The call for celibacy is an euphemism for deprivation. To say that certain groups of people are not deserving of love is  sheer cruelty. How can any decent human being suggest it?

This friend once said: ‘Even if i accept everything that you say... it’s still not accepted in society.’

I feel sorry for her.
If you seek acceptance in a homophobic church, you will never find it [unless you ‘turn straight’].
You will always be seen as a lesser member. In their hearts, they think you didn’t ‘repent enough’ and therefore you are still facing ‘homosexual temptations’. I have heard enough stories from suffering gay Christians to know of these widespread beliefs.

Acceptance is important.
But people who hanker after acceptance don’t realize that there are various voices out there for any issue. And that current paradigms are not immune to changes over time. If you allow what others accept or don’t accept dominate your life, you are like a leaf that sways where the winds blow.

What happened to your mind, essence and soul...?
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