Bus captain in trouble for insulting a transgender woman

An SBS Transit bus captain will be reprimanded for throwing a gay slur at a transgender woman at Bedok’s temporary bus interchange.

Fridae.Asia, a Singapore-based news portal for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, reported that bus company SBS Transit would punish at least one of its bus captains who called Leona Lo, a transgender woman, an “Ah Kua” – a derogatory Hokkien term for transvestites and effeminate men.

The incident happened on Tuesday morning and Lo later wrote a complaint to SBS Transit.

In her blog, she recounted: “As I was walking to the MRT station, a bus driver/captain wearing SBS uniform shouted ‘Ah Kua’ and adopted a woman’s gait as he ‘sashayed”’ past me. His fellow bus drivers – all wearing SBS uniform – hooted and clapped.”

When contacted by Fridae.Asia, SBS Transit’s spokesperson Tammy Tan said the driver is “deeply apologetic” and the company “will be taking disciplinary action against him”.

Tan did not want to say what disciplinary action the company would take on the driver, but said: “I would like to extend my deep regret to the complainant and to assure her that this is not something we at SBS Transit condone.”

Lo, a public relations consultant, later wrote on her blog that “this is not about punishing the driver/captain”.

“I never asked to be abused. I never asked to be the subject of public ridicule,” she said, adding that she did what she did to “stand up to bullies”. “They can come in many forms – as classmates who call you names, as colleagues who demand that your superior withhold your bonus because of your sexual orientation, as relatives who question why you give your parents grief…,” she wrote.

She told Fridae.Asia: “We need to report such incidents to ensure that history does not repeat itself. I've received emails from transgender women humiliated by bouncers at nightclubs but when I ask them for an incident report they back out for fear of ‘reprisals’.

“Until we can stand up for ourselves and believe in our right to live a life free from harassment, the door to bullying and abuse will remain wide open.”

This is not the first time that Lo has been in the public eye. In 2009, she appeared in a play titled ‘Ah Kua Show’ which was based on her autobiography, ‘From Leonard to Leona: A Singapore Transsexual's Journey to Womanhood’.

As an LGBT activist, she offered, in 2007, to conduct diversity training for the employees of a bar which did not welcome “lady boys”.

Read the Fridae.Asia report here.

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