To empower queer women towards greater involvement and presence in the community
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.
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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Most of the time I just brush it off. I say, “it’s ok, it happens.” I try to shrug it off, but I know it bothers me, and it’s piling up. Now I avoid public restrooms if I can, and I try not to make eye contact with other women in the changeroom before I have my clothes off. My natural reaction sometimes is to apologize. I suppose I feel that I have unintentionally offended them or something. But the more I think about it, the less sense it makes to feel sorry, and I’m tired of walking with my head hung low.

It’s a mixed feeling. I know most women just react out of self-defense. Where that reflex comes from is a whole other can of worms, and come to think of it, if I were actually a man, I don’t know if I should feel offended for the assumed ill intentions rather than an innocent mistake. On one hand, I understand where those reactions come from, but on the other, knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better. And what am I supposed to do? Wear makeup and grow my hair out? What if I consider both to be too much trouble for me? Or go to the men’s room? I don’t see myself as a man, so that isn’t a logical solution either.

I’ve tried to come up with responses from my end that would go beyond “uh… I think I’m in the right place” and “no it’s ok.. it happens.. I’m sorry.” But I can’t. I don’t know what I’m defending myself from, or why there’s a need for it. I want to fix the problem, but I don’t know where the problem is.

One thing I do know is that I’m tired. I’m tired of being scared, and I’m tired of feeling that I’m so different.


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