Weeks after a gay couple and hotel got a lot of love for representing the Singapore’s LGBT community, Tampines representative Baey Yam Keng last night displayed another rare show of support by interviewing a teen constituent about undergoing hormonal replacement therapy.
In the interview, the duo discuss the struggles that the teenager, identified only as 19-year-old Keegan, is experiencing due to the procedure. Baey went on to express hope for a better future for LGBT residents in Singapore, where gay sex is still banned and no laws protect the community. Resources do exist nonetheless, he noted.
“Now, we have counselors in every school, so there are resources available, and I think counselors are well-trained to be able to give sound advice, and in Keegan’s case, refer him to the gender clinic,” he said. “And there are professionals there who are able to advise him and eventually even advise his grandmother and parents to accept him for who he is. I think it’s important there’s help.”
He said it would take more time for society and governance to change, though he noted the latter is bringing resources to bear. “Let us take a step at a time,” he added.
Baey’s show was watched by more than 3,000 viewers and included a discussion with Hallmark Health medical center director Tan E-Ching, a former schoolmate, about improving communication between parents and children.
Asked about the gay sex law, he straddled a both-sides position of acknowledging those who want change and those who do not.
“I’m hopeful that things will change, but let us give time for policymakers also to be able to find a way to have a good conversation,” later adding that “ultimately, we don’t want the society to be divided.”
It was the first time the 50-year-old MP featured someone from the LGBT community in his Instagram live chats that have featured interviews with figures from the worlds of arts and sports since they began in May.
He said that he has known Keegan, who is transitioning to male, since before the hormone treatment began, as the teenager and his grandmother often attends community center events Baey hosts. But it was Keegan who responded to Baey’s open call in June for people to share their stories about their gender transformation journeys. Keegan’s began when he was 16, starting with a trip to the school counselor.
Keegan said that his family was reluctant to accept his decision but became more accepting after receiving advice from a doctor, who required their consent as Keegan was underage. His father is helping to pay for the therapy, Keegan said. His next goal was to undergo breast removal.
“As a father, I think it’s not easy for parents to come to terms with it,” Baey told him in the video. “You should really be grateful to your dad. I think that is a very strong show of support for you.”
Baey’s interview with Keegan drew mixed reactions from viewers. Some thanked Baey for taking a rare, progressive stance by leading such a discussion while others questioned whether he was trying score political points.
“Thanks Mr Baey for opening up such a platform for Keegan and for being inclusive. We need more open discussions and conversations like this. It’s not easy talking about such a sensitive and hard topic – thanks for taking the step forward to understand and listen,” model Andee Chua wrote in the comments on Instagram.
On Facebook, user Jeff Law questioned Baey’s sincerity.
“You just lost my vote here trying to be a populist!” he wrote. “A PR man as usual!”