Singapore’s ‘mean spirit

Bystanders react with disparaging comments about transgender people
13 October 2013 | By Sudeshna Sarkar

A lovers’ tiff that developed into a vicious assault is being regarded from a different perspective in Singapore – because the attacker happens to be from the transgender community.

The incident occurred in February 2012 when William Hanz De Veyra Arriesgado, a 25-year-old Filipino living with a 47-year-old Australian, Colin James Peady, had an argument in a pub.

Angered by the quarrel, Arriesgado charged into Peady’s apartment, stabbing him several times with a knife.

When Peady tried to flee the apartment, he was slashed in the back repeatedly with a metal fork and a pair of scissors.

Arrested and charged with assault, Arriesgado was in the dock Monday with a district court hearing the case.

The assistant public prosecutor has sought minimum two years’ imprisonment for Arriesgado, saying his reaction was out of proportion and the attacks were ‘brutal, relentless, and sustained’.

Arriesgado faces a maximum up to 10 years in prison and a fine or caning.

The Filipino, who has pleaded guilty, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday to make a plea for the mitigation of his sentence.

While some public opprobrium is inevitable in an act of violence like this, the incident also exposes the latent lack of public sympathy for transgender people.

Surprisingly, a lot of the disparaging comments are from young people.

Hayati Porter, a college goer’s take on the report of the attack was to say, ‘Ha ha ha. They may looked (sic) like a woman but they still have the strength of a man.’

Somebody commenting as Tia Sarah said: ‘Transgender are fake women. Women outside but a man inside. Don’t play play with them, ah.’

Some of the censure was also directed at Peady, an ang mo, or foreigner, and the fact that he could not ‘get a real woman’.

A woman called Alica Wills said: ‘Serve the ang mo right. Got no real girls is it’ while somebody posting as Doodlebugger Larry said, ‘Go, Aussie.’

However, there were some who took up cudgels on behalf of the community, like Kelvin Wong, who said he was a colleague of Peady.

‘People can be so mean-spirited towards people they don’t know,’ Wong said. ‘This could have been anyone, please do take time to know more transgender people and understand them before you make any judgment on them. People are just so mean nowadays.’

The reactions come less than a month after a transwoman, Fanny Ler, made a public appeal for understanding, saying, ‘We are not freaks of nature.’

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