(Unpublished - May 5, 2009)
I care about family too
I refer to mother-of-three Jessline Lim’s concerns voiced in the ST Forum (May 5).
In the wake of the old guard regaining leadership at Aware over the weekend, Madam Lim said she was ‘perturbed’ that many of those who turned up at the EGM were ‘struggling with their gender’.
It must be clear that gender is a cultural trait.
Across different cultures, there are different definitions and prescribed sets of behaviours for what is deemed feminine or masculine.
Across different timelines, gender behavioural traits also vary, given the changes in the cultural, intellectual, ideological and scientific landscape.
In most cases, scientific and religious discourses have conflated gender into biological sex.
This means that masculine and feminine behavioural traits are ascribed to male and female physiological traits.
What one may deem as a ‘struggle’ with gender, I see it as the comfortable acceptance with his or her gender identity.
I also would like to address the term ‘alternative lifestyles’.
On the first level, labeling other identities as ‘alternative lifestyles’ indicates a tolerance for only one kind, which is inferred to be right and moral.
On the second level, the label simplifies and reduces other identities to mere traits that can be unlearned and discarded.
The lack of information and contact with people of different gender identities and sexual orientation will only worsen our attitudes and intolerance towards these queer-identified people.
This is will only manifest in one being susceptible to moral panics, never mind the participation in one.
Lack of information will also lead to specific kinds of moralising that will breed demonization and discrimination of certain segments of society.
For instance, this moralising will involve the attribution of what is good or bad to various words and terms.
It is thanks to organisations like Aware that help us to be more understanding, and to feel comfortable and safe from guilt, fear and misinformation.
I too value family like Madam Lim, but I believe a family is more about function than form; a family is not defined only by its make-up, but by the support, care and love.
Ho Chi Sam