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Being Queer in NUS A resource guide for LGBTQ+ students

Contents Who We Are


Calendar of Events


LGBTQ+ Landscape in NUS


Letter from Provost


On-Campus Resources


Off-Campus Resources


Frequently Asked Questions



Who We Are Gender Collective Gender Collective is an inclusive social group where people of all gender and sexual identities can come together for discussion in a safe space. We discuss gender and sexuality and how they intersect with other modes of living. We also have kikis!

The G Spot The G Spot is a collection of students from Yale NUS College who promote diversity and inclusivity. We are concerned with issues intersecting gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, asexuality, race, class, and disability – hence the G “Spot”, literally a point of intersection, and one deeply connected with the body.


Who We Are tFreedom tFreedom is an LGBTQIA+-affirming community that aims to build a more diverse and inclusive college. We organise events to advocate and educate on matters regarding gen-der and sexuality, fostering greater awareness and under-standing amongst Tembusians on such issues. tFreedom also host private gatherings for LGBTQIA+-identifying members to create a safe space for them to freely express themselves. Ultimately, tFreedom aspires to be the pillar of support for LGBTQIA+ Tembusians while actively engaging with the general college community to promote an inclusive residential environment.

Inter-University LGBT Network The Inter-University LGBT Network is a platform for groups from/in Singapore universities to collaborate in creating safer, more inclusive school communities through support and/or education. Students, staff and alumni can find out more and reach out to their respective university groups that are listed above. For more info, go to InterUniLGBT.


Calendar of Events Combined Semester 1: Week 5, Sep 10 — Inter-University LGBT Network Mixer Week 9 — Sexuality and Gender Week

Gender Collective Semester 1: Week 2, Aug 16 — Welcome Session Recess Week, Sep 22 — Self-Care/Mental Health Discussion Week 8, Oct 1 — Excursion to Dialogue in the Dark at Ngee Ann Polytechnic

The G Spot Semester 1: Week 0 — Qafe-Hopping Week 2, Aug 18 — Welcome Session Week 3, Aug 23 — HIV Panel Week 3, Aug 26 — General Meeting Week 11 — Executive Committee Elections

tFreedom Semester 1: Week 2, Aug 17 — Welcome Session and Inclusion Day Week 3, Aug 23 — Students’ Tea with Pink Dot Representatives Week 5 — HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Week 6 — Internal mixer Week 9 — Internal mixer Week 12 — Internal mixer


LGBTQ+ Landscape in NUS Different people have different experiences being queer in NUS, depending on many different factors such as what faculty you are in, whether you are living on campus and if you have come out to your peers. Nonetheless, we will try to give you a very brief overview of the LGBT landscape in NUS over the past few years. In 2009, an opinion article titled “Having LGBT Societies In Our Campuses” was published in The Kent Ridge Commons that declared that “there is no reason why LGBT societies cannot be accepted in our campuses.” Since then, three groups based at University Town have sprung up — Gender Collective in 2011; The G Spot in 2013; and tFreedom in 2015. Some NUS faculty have also been in the limelight over LGBT issues. Notably, Prof Thio Li-ann from the Law Faculty has spoken out strongly against LGBT right in Parliament as a Nominated Member of Parliament during the 2007 Penal Code Review over the repeal of S377A. More recently in 2014, Assoc Prof Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied from the Department of Malay Studies was counselled for calling “lesbianism “ a “cancer” and a “wrongful” ideology. Following this incident, NUS Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye sent out a circular to all members of the NUS community affirming the university’s commitment to diversity and respect for all regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or sexual orientation. You can read the letter in full on page 10.


LGBTQ+ Landscape in NUS That same year, Asst Prof Lynette Chua from the Law Faculty published Mobilizing Gay Singapore, a book that examined the Singapore LGBT movement’s emergence, development and strategies. The book was published by NUS Press. In 2015, the NUS Political Association organised a social policy forum titled “Our Families” that incurred the ire of certain segments of society with regard to the speakers invited which included Leow Yangfa, Executive Director of Oogachaga Counselling and MP Baey Yam Keng, who had openly spoken up in support of the repeal of S377A. Over the years, many students have organised projects and done research around the LGBT community. For instance, The Swan Project was a final year project done by a group of final year FASS students in 2014. In collaboration with The T Project, a community group that runs a shelter for homeless transgender people, the group sought to raise awareness about the transgender community in Singapore.


LGBTQ+ Landscape in NUS NUS Policy on Discrimination NUS has released the following statement regarding discrimination:

It is the policy of the National University of Singapore to comply with all Singapore nondiscrimination laws and the relevant Singapore government policies. This nondiscrimination policy applies to admissions, employment, access to and treatment in the University programs and activities. Complaints of invidious discrimination prohibited by University policy are to be resolved within existing University procedures. The following excerpt is from the Code of Student Conduct: (B) Respect for People The University encourages students to display consideration, kindness and responsibility in their dealings with other persons. Students should not engage in disorderly or offensive behaviour such as making threats against others, intimidating others, harassing others, drunkenness, lewdness, or participating in any unlawful assembly. Students should also refrain from participating in any activity which physically or mentally harms, intimidates or humiliates other students, or which violates one’s dignity as an individual. In particular, negative and improper orientation practices that make new students feel uncomfortable (also known as “ragging”) are not tolerated by the University. Such practices display a lack of basic respect for other persons, imperil students’ physical and mental welfare, and may unintentionally result in an un-healthy atmosphere of fear and intimidation on campus.


LGBTQ+ Landscape in NUS NUS Policy on Discrimination The information below is taken from our correspondence with the NUS Provost’s Office: A student facing a situation of discrimination or harassment can approach his/her Department or Faculty to seek help or to report the offence. If the student resides in on-campus housing and this is happening within his/her residence, he/she can approach his/her Residential Advisor for help. Students also have the following options: 

Approaching the Office of Student Affairs;

Making a report to the Office of Campus Security either at a security post or via the online e-Crime Report; or

Reporting such incidents through the Whistle Blowing Unit.

If the student should feel endangered or threatened, he/she can be advised to report the incident directly to the Police.

If students are distressed or traumatised by the discrimination, bullying or harassment, they should be advised to seek sup-port or counselling with their Faculty Student-Life Advisors or with the Counselling and Psychological Services at the University Health Centre (see page 12).


Letter from NUS Provost 5 Mar 2014 Faculty Members, Staff and Students

Building an Inclusive and Mutually Respectful Community for Learning and Scholarship NUS is widely known for its academic and educational standards, and is a respected university in Asia and the world. A central element of our community is an open and inquisitive academic culture. Faculty and students are free to study as well as pursue scholarship and research in a wide range of topics, to express their views, and to debate and discuss ideas and issues. We value the diversity of people, cultures, perspectives and experiences that we have on campus, and in our wider Singaporean community. Diversity enables and enriches the mutual sharing, learning and exchange of ideas and perspectives that mark a vibrant intellectual and academic environment. NUS embraces faculty, staff and students regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or sexual orientation. Respect for people is also one of the three fundamental principles that underpin the University’s Code of Conduct for staff and for students. The recent incident involving Associate Professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied is a learning opportunity for our community. He had posted comments expressing his views on lesbianism that contained provocative, inappropriate and offensive language. I have counselled Associate Professor Khairudin, who has acknowledged that whilst his only intention had been to convey his point of view, his original posts reflected poor judgment in the tone and choice of words. He has since amended or re-moved these posts.


Letter from NUS Provost This incident reminds us that issues concerning race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and value systems continue to be sensitive, contentious and potentially divisive in Singapore, as in many other societies. The situation is aggravated by the ease with which views once expressed can be rapidly and widely disseminated via social media to much larger audiences. Members of our community, both staff and students, should be mindful of this, and show restraint, due care and respect with their words and actions, particularly when communicating online. I look forward to your continued strong support to collectively contribute to a vibrant NUS community and environment that promotes and supports exploration, discovery, debate, learning and development; one where members of our community can express themselves openly but in a manner which is civil and encouraging of positive engagement, particularly on issues which are complex and contentious. Thank you. Yours sincerely,

Prof Tan Eng Chye Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost


On-Campus Resources University Health Centre & CPS The UHC provides testing for Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) and various options for contraception, based on consultation with the doctors. Specific types, costs and external referrals will be discussed between doctor and patient during consultation. The UHC Counselling & Psychological Services (CPS), located on the second floor, offers full-time NUS students short-term individual counselling for all manner of concerns, including those related to sexuality and gender identity.


National University of Singapore University Health Centre 20 Lower Kent Ridge Road Singapore 119080


6601 5035 (Clinic) 6516 2376 (CPS) 6516 7777 (Lifeline NUS, 24-hour hotline)

Opening hours:

Mon to Thu: 0830 — 1800 Fri: 0830 — 1730 Sat/Sun/PH: Closed (Lunch break: 1230 — 1330) Mon to Thu: 1730 Fri: 1700

Last Registration:



Off-Campus Resources AWARE AWARE is Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group. AWARE believes in the rights of women and men to make informed and responsible choices about their lives and to have equal opportunities in education, marriage and employment, and in the right of women to control their own bodies, particularly with regard to sexual and reproductive rights. AWARE is dedicated to removing gender-based barriers. Website:



1800 774 5935

Sexual Assault Care Centre at AWARE The Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) at AWARE provides free and confidential services to individuals who have experienced sexual assault, helping them deal with their experiences and make decisions about their next steps. Email:


6779 0282


Off-Campus Resources (by Action for AIDS) is an initiative by AfA (Action for AIDS) that has been providing sexual health workshops, conducting outreach activities at venues (sauna, bars, clubs, etc) and online forums via Smartphone Apps to re-duce the spread of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) amongst gay, bi and men who have sex with men (MSM) in Singapore. It actively works towards growing a capacity of stakeholders and community partners to help conduct innovative campaigns, identify sexual health trends and together foster a stronger community.

Pink Carpet Service is a new initiative by that provides preand post- counselling for the community by community volunteers. Websites:




6254 0212


Off-Campus Resources Oogachaga Counselling Oogachaga is a community-based counselling, support and personal development organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples and families. We come under the umbrella of Spaces Counselling and Community Limited. Websites:




6224 9373 (Mon to Fri, 1100 — 1800)

Pink Dot SG Pink Dot Sg is a non-profit movement started by a group of individuals who care deeply about the place that LGBT Singaporeans call home. It is a group for everyone, straight and gay, who support the belief that everyone deserves the freedom to love. With openness and acceptance, we hope to bring LGBT Singaporeans closer to their family and friends. Website:




Off-Campus Resources The Purple Alliance The Purple Alliance coordinates social events, conducts educational outreach, provides health assistance, supports academic research and works with external groups and interested individuals on projects that support the dignity of LGBTQA individuals and which nurture positive relations with the public. Website:



SGRainbow SGRainbow is a non-profit group for gay, bisexual and queer (GBQ) men age 18 to 35 years old. A range of social and personal development programmes are organised to provide a platform for networking and capacity building. SGRainbow runs two sub-groups; SGRendezvous for 18 to 25 years old and SGRadar for 26 to 35 years old. Website:







Off-Campus Resources Young OUT Here Young OUT Here is a youth community group, run by queer youths for queer youths. Young OUT Here aims to provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT youths to develop a healthy identity, and to reach out to LGBT youths to engage them in healthy learning, discussions and activities. Website:



Frequently Asked Questions Should I come out in NUS? In general NUS is safe in that you are unlikely to face outright harassment. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give you a straightforward answer to this question. However, some people may still hold prejudices so it’s not uncommon to sometimes hear discomforting remarks or even be the object of microaggressions. Ultimately, it really depends on your environment - what faculty you are in, and whether you stay in hall or RC. Try to get a feel of what the general culture is like before you decide. There are many students in NUS who have chosen to come out while others have decided not to. Be prepared however that by coming out in university, people beyond and outside of university may find out. Also, in deciding to come out, consider when you feel is the right time to do it, who you want come out to, and why you are coming out. It is also perfectly fine not to come out, whether you feel uncomfortable with it at this current moment, or whether you feel it is simply not important to you at all. There are different ways of being queer in NUS! If you need any kind of support, feel free to reach out to any of the QGLs, other seniors or your peers and other resources provided in this booklet.


Frequently Asked Questions How do I deal with discrimination and prejudice in the classroom? Always deal with it in a way that you're comfortable with, and what the situation demands. If you want to speak out and have the confidence to do so, do so. If you want to talk about it with a lecturer/prof in private, do so. If you want to talk to the person who made those comments in private, do so. If the source of this discrimination/prejudice is your lecturer/prof, again you should act based on the situation. If this was an isolated, general comment you might simply talk to the lecturer privately. If this is an action directed specifically at you, you might choose to bring this matter up with the Department Head or Provost if you’re comfortable. Remember that every situation is different. If the person didn't mean it out of spite, but out of sheer ignorance, your response would be different from responding to hateful, mean comments. Be honest, but also kind.


Frequently Asked Questions I’m transgender. Can I transition while in NUS? Yes, of course. NUS provides some limited support for trans students.

Medical and Psychological Support If you are unsure about your gender identity, you can make an appointment with a counsellor or psychiatric therapist at the University Health Centre (UHC). You will usually be referred to Counselling and Psychological Services (CPS) first, where a counsellor may refer you to a psychiatrist if you decide to transition medically or surgically. UHC does not provide hormones or perform sex reassignment surgery (SRS) but the UHC psychiatrist can refer you to external specialists. However, if you are more sure about your gender identity, you do not need a referral to see an external specialist. Singapore’s most prominent gender identity specialist is Dr Tsoi Wing Foo, who operates a small clinic at Tanglin Shopping Centre. You can make an appointment with Dr Tsoi directly at 9062 6255. His clinic operates by appointment only. The first consultation costs about $150, but hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is generally quite affordable. He will also be able to answer general queries about the process itself. UHC will typically refer transgender students to Dr Tsoi when it is determined that the student is experiencing gender dysphoria. Hence, it is generally more expedient to go directly to Dr Tsoi for HRT or SRS rather than through UHC, unless you require counselling or psychiatric therapy.


Frequently Asked Questions Leave of Absence (LOA) If you are undergoing SRS, you can get medical leave for the days of the surgery and recovery. MCs are usually not granted for undergoing HRT. If you would like a longer leave period of more than 6 weeks, you can apply for an official Leave of Absence on medical grounds. The duration of leave is left to the discretion of your psychiatrist. If you are seeing a UHC psychiatrist, they will write to the university to grant you leave. If you are seeing an external psychiatrist, you must obtain a letter from them recommending leave and see a UHC GP who will then write to the university.

Unfortunately, in the doctor’s letter, the university will have to be informed of the specific reason for your leave. This information will be conveyed to the student affairs office of your faculty. Updating your records NUS will update its records to reflect official government records. If you would like to change your name, or if you have undergone SRS and would like to change your sex marker, you must first change your particulars in the government records and obtain a new NRIC or passport (or other official documents) reflecting your new particulars. You can then approach the NUS Student Service Centre to have your school records altered. Neither NUS nor the Singapore government recognise non-binary gender. However, if you are unable to or do not wish to undergo SRS, you can still have gendered salutations such as Mr and Ms removed from your displayed names in NUS computer systems, such as myISIS and the NUS Library Systems. Simply inform the Student Service Centre and the NUS Library administrators that you wish to do so.


Frequently Asked Questions Will there be LGBTQ+ groups in NUS on a university-wide level? The existing NUS groups are housed in residential colleges since their students saw an urgent need for LGBTQ affirmation in spaces where students live together. In addition, the faculty and administration of these residential colleges are generally supportive of such groups and thus supply them with the necessary resources to function. However, NUS is unlikely to similarly endorse any activities related to the LGBTQ community. Then NUS Vice Provost for Student Life Tan Tai Yong once stated in an interview with Yale Daily News, “If it’s a question of forming a formal society, where registry gets involved, we get into all these issues of the statutes.” Thus, for such a group to exist on a university-wide level, there must be sufficient student interest to ensure it can survive without institutional support. That being said, currently both The G Spot and Gender Collective are open to members from the larger NUS community outside of our colleges. Additionally, all three groups intend to organise some events together which will be open to all, such as Qrientation and the IULN Mixer. We are also open to working with any other groups within NUS so that we can grow and do more for the community.


Being Queer in NUS: A resource guide for LGBTQ+ students  

Are you a student at NUS who identifies as LGBTQ+? Wonder if you should come out to your friends, want to know what support and resources ar...

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