Media Interviews and Reviews
- Leona's Story
- Six years ago, she underwent a sex change operation in Bangkok.
- Today it has led Miss Leona Lo to write a book about transsexuals
here - and to quit her job. She wants to start on a clean slate.
- 'I want my new employer to hire me knowing I have published
the book and have 'come out' publicly,' she said.
- She felt that she would be taking the safe option if she
stayed in her current job as a corporate communications manager
with a statutory board: 'My colleagues and my boss know about
my past and they have been very supportive,' she said.
- But Miss Lo, 27, worries about handing in her notice in such
a dire economic climate.
- She admitted that it might not have been a wise decision
to quit her job; it hadn't been easy getting one in the first
- Apart from anything else, putting the name of her school
- the all-boys' Catholic High School - on her resume always raised
- 'I always debated about including the name of the secondary
school I went to,' said Miss Lo.
- 'If I added it in, one question would lead to another. And
if I didn't, potential employers would confront me and ask why
I hadn't been honest.'
- Tanned and lanky, Miss Lo said she would take it in her stride.
- 'If an employer does not want me on the basis of who I am,
why would I want to work for them in the first place?
- 'I'm prepared to learn how to cook and sell chicken rice
if I have to.'
- Documenting the experiences of transsexuals is something
she's known she had to do ever since she was a teenager.
- 'I remember the boys in school kicking a ball at me and trying
to make me cry. They said that if I did, I was an ah kua (colloquial
term for effeminate man),' said Miss Lo.
- 'There was so much pain in me - wanting to cry and yet trying
- She said she does not have grandiose ideas about the book
changing the world.
- 'I didn't write it hoping that people would embrace the transsexual
community. All I ask is for them to understand the daily challenges
that we face.
- 'It's also for those who come after me. It's for them to
know that they are not alone.'
- Born Leonard Lo, Miss Lo claimed that her parents have accepted
her for who she is.
- 'It hasn't been easy for them. Not only was I the only child,
but I was also the only grandson of the family,' she said, laughing.
- 'The family line has ended with me.'
- An implant near her hip releases hormones into her body.
She hasn't had breast implants and intends to keep her Adam's
- Sitting in a cafe in town, she laughed as she recounted the
childhood taunts and the snide comments she received.
- But there was a time when they were too much to bear and
she would sit at the beach and cry. She still does that sometimes.
- 'The name-calling never ends - not after my operation and
not with the launch of the book,' she said.
- 'With the book, I expect even more snide remarks. But I've
come to the point where I don't want to pretend or hide any more.'
- THE BOOK
- WHEN Miss Lo first met publisher Sylvia S H Tan, they were
supposed to discuss a book on musicals.
- But Ms Tan was more fascinated by her experiences as a transsexual
in Singapore and abroad.
- What resulted was My Sisters, Their Stories - a small
photographic book documenting transsexuals here and in Thailand.
- 'There were many hurdles we had to cross - the first was
to find transsexuals who were willing to speak out,' said Miss
Lo, a Master's degree holder. Published by Viscom Editions, the
96-page book is available at Kinokuniya, MPH and other bookstores.
- Author Leona Lo
- Photography Lance Lee
Design Concept and Art Direction Sylvia Tan
Print Production Viscom Design Associates
Interview with The Straits Times (13 April, 2003)
with The New Paper (15 Apr, 2003)
from interview with Fridae.com (May 2003)
to full interview with Fridae.com (May 2003)
with TODAY (14 Jul, 2003)
Interview in The Star Online (9 Sept, 2006) (PDF)