Ah Boys to Bullies is a call for a change to stop bullying. To educate the bullies and to stand up for the ones who are bullied from time to time for many reasons. As a researcher and writer, I met up with a few transgender women or sisters to have a good talk regarding bullies.
Bullies can be in any sort of way. I do face harassment too, but one of it that I can’t simply forget was when I was with a group of friends in a neighbourhood park. We were having our usual hangout when a group of young teenage boys walked passed us. What initially happened was they were staring at us but it turned out to be a war of words and hatred. To my surprise, the teenagers were merely 12 to 13 years old.
Here is transcribed interview with Marishka, Ally, Dion, June, Louise and also Asyurah. They shared with me their experiences and how they feel about the harassment they faced. Apart from these interviews, Project X also did a reenactment video of what they bullying is like. There is also a petition to the Ministry of Education to take up this issue. With all these resources, our journey to stop and educate bullies is hopefully a step closer.
- Let’s begin. Have you faced harassment before?
Ally: “Definitely yes, I mean that there is a few stages in my life that I gone through harassment.”
Dion: “Now there is a group of guys who will shout ah gua repeatedly. I just ignore. It has been happening here at XX, about 8 to 9 guys at 1 am. But only one shout. If I were to follow my anger, I would have shouted back to them.”
June: “Occasionally there will be a group of boys, I wouldn’t call them men, boys will drive to XX to cut chia ba. Meaning they will come down for fun and choose one sister to beat. To them is a fun activity.”
Asyurah: “Definitely. Sexual harassment bullying these kind of harassment.”
- What kind of harassment did you face?
Ally: “Sexual harassment. I’ve been raped. I was raped by 5 guys when I was in primary school.”
Dion: “Being disturb even though I don’t dress sexy. They signal their friends or partners when they saw me. It is a lie if they say they are not looking at me and judging me.”
Marishka: “I was in the bus to go somewhere. Then there was student, perhaps secondary or primary, I’m not sure. When they want to alight, before they go down the stairs they shout those words, ya know that make me very angry. They give verbal abuse. Like trying to intimidate me.”
Asyurah: “I was harassed by a mother daughter duet. Then this mother and daughter actually kept calling me names in a sense that in Malay they will go like “ingat kan pompan tapi bapok” (I thought she’s a woman but instead she’s a tranny) for me I don’t bother until it escalated and I couldn’t contain my anger, so I actually video them till I shout vulgarities. We are minding our business and yet they hurt us.”
- How do you overcome harassment?
Marishka: “I avoid being alone. Because I don’t work in the day, I avoid going out in the day and taking public transport. So thats how I avoid all this things.”
Ally: “Erm, keeping a positive mindset and not think about it. I feel that all this is a life lesson.”
Dion: “I won’t shout at them but talk nicely. I won’t tell them off if I didn’t notice the gesture, but I did. I don’t shout at them because it’s a waste of my breath. If I am not wrong I won’t be scared. Even my friends told me that I’m daring to approach them and tell them off.”
Asyurah: “Personally it is actually very difficult to overcome harassment, I mellow down a bit for no, example if I notice people start to calling me name, either I just put on my earpiece and ignore or I come up to the person, I just say hi hello introduce myself and say do I happen to know you or do you know me. That kinds of things that I do will make that particular person and uneasy and shut the mouth.”
- What do you want people to be aware of?
Marishka: “They are not your family or friends, they are outsiders. If they never disturb you, why must you disturb them. We are not their friend to be provoke anyhow. Start from the root before it got worse. Prevention is better than cure.”
Ally: “I feel that there is nothing to be aware of. I mean being a transgender is not a danger keep out, we shouldn’t be kept in cages, we are not animals. Yet there are those that will hurt (transgender) people. Just have open mind and be nice to one another, that’s all. Don’t judge, mutual respect.”
Dion: “The nuisances act should be stop.There is no need to disturb and shout names at me. This is all students. Project X can highlight about this and let this people know about transgender. Must teach them about transgender.”
June: “Not only marginalized got harassed what, fat person got harassed. It’s all about education, teach the general public that you shouldn’t harass, and on the same time if you are harassed what can you do, what right you have, what is the avenue to go . I think that is the right way, I always feel we should educate the public.”
Louise: “I think should be more on educate them in school. Maybe in school. That is what I personally think. They should be more educated.”
These are just highlights of the transcribed interview. Victims of bullies, especially transgender women have encountered endless of this situation and many more stories which are left untold. They seek for justice.
During the interview, they are in rage and also upset upon recalling their experiences. The current policies are doing bad, and they most important one is section 377A. In my opinion, due to this penal code, society have the image and perception that gay men and transgender women are bad and should not interact with their kids or even to anyone. Due to the government criminalizing same sex sexual activity, it gives an impression that gay and/or transgender people are criminals. It only adds more stigma to the marginalized community, which results in them being harassed or bullied. They are being cast aside and their feelings are not a concern to anyone. My suggestion for policy change is to decriminalize adult same sex sexual activity, and to build a truly inclusive society.
Sherry is the Researcher and Writer at Project X. She is a freelance expert in secret affairs and is very open to any possibilities and chances to upgrade her knowledge. She is currently working on compiling a zine that documents trans lives in Singapore.