The Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) issued a joint statement on Thursday (Jan. 21) following claims that MOE had interfered with a transgender student's hormonal treatment.
Previously, MOE had issued a statement on Jan. 16, saying that the claims were "not true".
MOE & IMH statement
In a joint statement on Thursday (Jan. 21), IMH and MOE stated that in treating individuals who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, IMH clinicians typically seek inputs from a wide range of stakeholders.
The final medical treatment decisions involving the use of hormonal therapy are up to doctors and their patients.
When such cases involve minors, written consent from parents is also required.
MOE and IMH said that, within the school setting, schools "work closely" with IMH and parents to support students diagnosed with gender dysphoria, in order to "maintain a conducive learning environment".
The statement added for this particular student, her school is "committed" to providing the educational support that the student needs in order to graduate, including home-based learning.
The school will also continue to work with the student's parents and IMH medical professional professionals to support her educational journey and well-being.
Finally, the joint statement encouraged people to respect the family's privacy, in order for the parents to "have the space to decide what is in their child’s best interest."
Reddit thread about student's experience
In a Reddit thread posted on Jan. 14 titled "[Rant] Transgender Discrimination in Singapore Schools and MOE's denial of mental health issues", a Junior College (JC) student wrote about her experience as a transgender student trying to go through hormone therapy.
The student, whose assigned sex at birth was male, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at IMH.
According to the Mayo Clinic, gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.
This diagnosis occurred in 2019, before the student entered JC, reported The Straits Times (ST).
The student wrote in the Reddit thread that after getting the diagnosis, she informed her school, which in turn informed MOE.
Schooling life has deteriorated
The student added that although her classmates and teachers were supportive, her schooling life has gone to "utter trash".
This was because, she claimed, her attempts to undergo hormone therapy — which is a treatment recommended by a number of doctors in Singapore who treat transgender patients — were disallowed by MOE.
Speaking with ST, the student said that she had parental consent, as well as an agreement with her doctor, to seek treatment when she turned 18.
However, she claimed that when she went to see her doctor again, her doctor said that he had been told by MOE to stop writing memos and referring people to hormone therapy without informing the ministry first.
This meant that the student no longer had a referral for hormone therapy, which, she wrote in the Reddit thread, caused her further mental trauma, "as this affected my ability to pass and present as a female".
In addition, the student also claimed that she was told to cut her hair to a boy's style according to the school handbook, and to wear the male uniform.
Any failure to comply, she was told, would result in expulsion.
The student told ST that she plans to seek help from her Member of Parliament (MP), and might even transfer from her JC to a polytechnic, where attire rules are more relaxed.
MOE "not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment"
In a Facebook post on Jan. 16, MOE responded to the Reddit post, saying that the claim that MOE had interfered with the student's hormonal treatment was "not true".
Referring to the student with the pronoun "his", MOE said:
"We invite the student to approach the school to clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better."
The ministry also said that it is "not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment, which is a matter for the family to decide on", adding that "all schools have a duty of care to students and will work closely with parents and medical professionals".
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