Trans

Trans student cruelly banned from school unless she cuts her hair and wears boys’ uniform

Emma Powys Maurice January 24, 2021
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Trans student

A trans student was warned not to return to school until she cut her hair and wore boys' uniform

A coalition of 60 Singaporean LGBT+ groups are standing in solidarity with a trans student who was banned from school unless she cut her hair and wore boys’ uniform.

Ashlee, 18, attended the Millenia Institute school in Singapore, where teachers were initially supportive of her transition until she was about to begin hormone replacement therapy.

Despite having parental consent to medically transition, Ashlee’s doctor was warned he needed to consult with the ministry of education and work with her school before referring her for the therapy.

At this point Ashlee says she became a “target” of the ministry of education, who allegedly sought to block her treatment.

In October, the school told her if she wanted to receive hormone replacement therapy it would have to be at a reduced dosage – and if her physical changes meant that she was no longer able to fit into the boys’ uniform, she would be expelled.

“The principal’s explanation for this was that ‘due to your presentation, you would be as disruptive to the school environment as a student with severe autism’,” Ashlee said.

The problems continued in November, when Ashlee was pulled out of class and reprimanded for her hair length. Later the school called her father to inform him that she was not to return to school until she cut her hair.

Ashlee refused, saying her dysphoria is so bad she “cannot bear to return in boys’ uniform or boys’ hair”, and with the school declining her request for home-based learning she is unable to continue her education at Millennia Institute.

The ministry of education issued a complete denial of the issue, saying that it has never blocked Ashlee’s hormone therapy and it is “not true” that it interfered in her treatment.

“That is an outright lie,” Ashlee said. “[It] contradicts what I was told by my doctor, and I am sure my classmates can vouch for me. In addition, they do not respect my pronouns and instead intentionally misgendered me (against the advice and recommendations).”

The bitter conflict gained global attention after Ashlee posted her story on social media, prompting a group of Singaporean LGBT+ organisations to issue a statement of solidarity.

“We, the undersigned organisations, express our solidarity with Ashlee … whose rights to privacy, health, safety and access to education were violated by her school,” it reads.

“We are deeply concerned about the lack of institutional regulations or policies that acknowledge and protect the rights of transgender students in Singapore.”

The coalition adds that it is “profoundly troubling and disappointing that MOE’s official statement on Ashlee’s allegations refused to acknowledge her gender identity and chose to misgender her by using male pronouns”.

They call on the Singaporean government to stand by its commitment to “keeping students safe” by ensuring safe and nurturing environments for all students – including LGBT+ ones.

If the issue cannot be resolved, Ashlee will be forced to drop out of school and apply to a polytechnic, where rules on clothing and hair length are more relaxed.

Related topics: school uniform, Singapore, trans students

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