Curated from: Learn - shy
November 13th to 19th is Transgender Awareness Week, an annual celebration where transgender people and their allies bring attention to the community by educating the public on transgender people, sharing their stories and experiences, and raising awareness on some of the societal issues faced by the community.
This year, we spoke to Andrea Razali, winner of Miss International Queen Singapore in 2020 and Singapore’s most prominent transgender model, having appeared on the cover of magazines such as L'Officiel Singapore and the New York Times Style Magazine Singapore. A big advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, she helps out in different ways, be it donating clothes to the transgender shelter or doing advocacy work through events and interviews to raise awareness, in hopes of bridging the lack of awareness that is a key obstacle for the community. A true multi-hyphenate, she runs her own beauty empire, Andrea and Weave, specialising in hair products, cosmetics, and make-up and hair services, and is also the President and National Director of the Miss Equality World Singapore organization, a world-class beauty pageant for transgenders in Singapore.
Check out her business ventures here!
When did you realise you were trans?
I noticed that I was different when I was 5 years old. That was also the age that I could accurately differentiate between gender norms. I have always had a strong inclination toward things that were effeminate and I loved toys and clothes that represented femininity. I remember that I would try on my mom's clothes whenever she was not at home, and would ask for toys meant for girls, such as the ones from the Powerpuff Girls. I also identified more with my female peers and friends rather than male. I always felt like I was in the wrong body, and hated how I looked, which was heightened even more when girls would tell me I was handsome.
When I was 19 years old, I came across a Youtube Video by a Canadian transgender influencer by the name of Gigi Gorgeous, who came out as transgender in that video. It was then that I realised that that might have been my identity all along, which I hadn’t realised . After more research and self-exploration, I confirmed my gender identity as a transgender woman.
What was your transitioning process like?
I started medically transitioning only at 23 years old, after graduating from University. The reason I did this was because of fear of what the implications might have been if I were to have started my transition whilst I was still in school.
I started off with hormone replacement therapy, in the form of hormone injections and pills from a doctor, and went ahead to have several surgeries to feminize my physical form as well as to get the gender confirmation I had wanted. The entire process took about 3 years to complete.
What has life been like for you post-transition?
Just like everybody else, my life has had its fair share of ups and downs. Nevertheless, in view of gender identity, I comparatively have greater confidence, and no longer suffer from the inner conflict that I have always had with regard to it. At present, I stand my ground as a proud transgender woman, and am blessed to be surrounded by people who support the cause and have absolutely no judgement on individuals like myself.
Apart from that, I have also been blessed with several opportunities, to be a justifiable spokesperson for the transgender community in Singapore, having been crowned Miss International Queen Singapore back in 2020 and been given a platform to voice out my advocacy toward Transgender Awareness and Rights.
What has dating been like as a transgender individual?
I think that dating was more complicated before I transitioned, as I was attracted to men back when being LGBTQ+ was not as common as it is now, and the stigma was much stronger. Over the past years, dating as a transgender individual has become relatively easier.
Back when the stigma that came along with being transgender had caused many to not want to associate with people from the community, my dating life was insubstantial. Recently, there had been more awareness about transgender people being brought out into mainstream media, and with that, came an increase in acceptance of the community. Because of this, dating has been a smoother process, and in succession, the partners I’ve had have been accepting, compassionate, and non judgemental, choosing to focus on who I am as a person outside of my gender identity, which is principal in any relationship.
Do you have any advice or tips to share?
Being authentic to your being is one of the fundamental pillars to self-acceptance. When you give credence to who you really are as a person, you will realise that all the trepidation and apprehension in your life caused by efforts in trying to conceal your true identity was not relevant, and that the key to personal contentment had always been in your hands.
Keep up with Andrea through her personal IG @andrearazali!