SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Saturday (Jan 16) that allegations of its interference with a transgender student’s decision to go on hormone replacement therapy are "not true".
The 18-year-old said in a Reddit post on Thursday that the ministry had intervened, preventing the junior college student from obtaining a doctor's referral letter to begin the hormone therapy.
The Reddit post stated that the student had obtained a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), and that the therapy was recommended by multiple doctors attending to trans patients in Singapore.
"MOE is aware of the Reddit post which claimed that MOE had interfered with a student’s hormonal treatment. This is not true," said the ministry in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"We invite the student to approach the school to clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better," it added.
"MOE and schools work closely with and respect the professional advice given by MOH’s healthcare professionals. We are not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment, which is a matter for the family to decide on," said the ministry.
"All schools have a duty of care to students and will work closely with parents and medical professionals. We encourage students who experience unkind behaviour from peers to approach the teachers or school leaders as they are committed to keep students safe."
THREATENED WITH EXPULSION
Speaking to TODAY, the student, who wanted to be known only as Ashlee, said that MOE did not address any of the issues laid out in the Reddit post.
Ashlee had asked that the school not be named for fear of repercussions for speaking with the media, and requested to be referred to by she/her pronouns.
She said she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2019, adding that the situation with MOE and the school started around February last year.
Ashlee told TODAY that she had notified the school's management of her diagnosis in March last year, and was asked to confirm this via a letter from the IMH psychiatrist. The letter was reportedly given to the school and MOE the same month.
She said MOE told her through the school that it would work with her to understand her diagnosis and make school conducive for her.
The school’s year head and counsellor had also sat in for at least one of Ashlee’s appointments with the psychiatrist, she said, adding that some school rules were relaxed during the time, citing the example of being allowed to use the wheelchair toilet.
However, Ashlee told TODAY that when she was to proceed with hormone replacement therapy in August, she was informed by the psychiatrist that MOE had told the doctor to consult the ministry before any decision could be made regarding treatments for transgender students.
Because of this, Ashlee said she has not received the letter to begin hormone replacement therapy.
In the TODAY report, Ashlee said that during a meeting in October involving her father and the school management, she was told that she would have to continue wearing the boy's uniform. If hormone replacement therapy resulted in physiological changes that prevent her from doing so, she would be expelled from school, she said.
According to Ashlee, the school's principal also requested to work personally with the endocrinologist to limit the dose of hormones so that expulsion was unlikely to happen.