September 13, 2007

Stepping Forward to Change "Culture of Shame"

That's the task that Leona Lo has taken on in her native Singapore. Known as Leonard before her sex change, Leona is determined to buck the trend of transsexuals in her country and live openly and proud, hopefully encouraging others to do the same. From Google News: (Thanks to PageOneQ for the tip)

She loves children and her lifelong dream is to be a wife and a mother, but the raspy voice and masculine frame betray the fact that Leona Lo was born a man.

Unlike many other transsexuals in Asia who prefer to live privately because of the social stigma of sex change, the British-educated, Singaporean transsexual woman has chosen to live a normal life, but in public.

Smart, confident and articulate, the communications specialist who heads her own public relations company has embarked on a mission to help turn around the "culture of shame" surrounding transsexuals in Singapore and the region.

"Somewhere out there, not just in Singapore but throughout Asia, there are lots of young people who are suffering the way I suffered years ago," Leona, 32, tells AFP in an interview.

In her former life as a man, she was called Leonard.

These days, she draws on her experiences of gender identity crisis, rejection and discrimination to challenge social mores on behalf of the so-called silent community.

"It's this entire culture of shame that gets under your skin. It's not something that you can isolate and demolish because it is so much a part of our culture," she says.

One person can't change an entire culture, but they can at least start the process. I admire Leona Lo for her courage to try and wish her success with her efforts.

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