Adventure Travel Abroad

Kristin’s Journey: A Transgender Woman’s Search for Peace

Kristin’s Journey: A Transgender Woman’s Search for Peace

When I came to this life when I met the first transgender that was in Bugis Street. One of the mummies said, “Hey. You are so young. You are only around 18 years old, and you come here.” I said, “I want to be what you are.” The mummy said, “Okay, if you want to be like that, I’ll give you a name. What name do you want?” I said, “I want to be named ‘Ida’.” “No, no, no, that’s a kampung (village) name. I’ll name you ‘Kristin’.” I’m a transgender, you see. I was born a transgender. I was known as a transgender since I was very young. Most of my friends call me “Mummy Kris”. Some of them call me “Kak (Older Sister) Kris”. I used to be a mummy for them when I was in the sex worker life when I met all these youngsters who wanted to get into this lifestyle. This is me, in Bugis Street. These are my Bugis Street friends. This is Suhaina. This is Jamie. And then we have those Bugis Street movies that they made. It was around 1979 when I went to Bugis Street. A real… nightlife. You felt like you were somebody. You felt like you were a Hollywood actress. You didn’t feel like you were a sex worker. When the American ships the American sailors or the French sailors came Bugis Street would be packed. They wanted to watch all these ladyboys. Last time, a majority of Singaporeans were suaku (ignorant). (They said,) “You walk this way, you sway and move like that. Why are you here?” I just said I ran away from home. “Ah Gua (Transsexual),” they would call you. “Pondan, bapok (sissy).” So sometimes, yeah, you’ll be humiliated by the public. I’m a tough woman, an iron woman, you know? I can beat up even guys on the street. But I don’t fight because I’m a crazy or mad person. I fight for my rights. I fight when I’m provoked. You fight for your own, you fight for others. You help them out. But, in 2004 I was a victim of the tsunami. [Screaming] I was in Aceh. “This country is shaking!” I said. The hotel I was staying in also collapsed. The wave is around you. The wave just takes you! Then you tumble. And then “Boom!” I was in a coma for a few months, you know? During my coma, I think I heard prayers from the Qur’an come into my mind. My grandfather came to me and said “You’re given a chance. God wants you to do something better for your life to do something for yourself.” [Muslim prayer call] The Qur’an says, “You are from dead things. But God gave you life.” And since you’re alive, why don’t you find out who made you? It’s true. I was dead already, but God made me live. So that’s when I said I’d like to be more pious and religious and think of God more. You see? A person who was very violent became a person who is very soft who can accept who can say sorry who can say, “I lose.” I used to be like that but God didn’t want me to be like that. God asked me to stand up choose another life don’t die that way. As a Muslim, I am what I am. God created what I am, and God knows who I am. I’m a transgender. God created me. So I present myself such that I, myself, am a man. A man who was not perfect. My parents know who I am because they brought me up. And they know that since young I already behaved more like a woman. Actually, I was adopted, you know? They are my foster parents. But these people who brought me up said “Even though my blood doesn’t flow in you, I take you as my child.” They are willing to accept who I am and I am willing to accept who they are That’s always what I know. They are my parents. Women and transgenders, we feel like women but we can’t be real women. We don’t have the woman’s body. But we are deeper than women in our feelings. The woman inside us is much greater than woman itself. So that’s why, until now I’m still grateful I’m still moving on healthily, happily. And my life is fulfilled.

Reader Comments

  1. Thank you Kristin and The T Project for sharing this story with us! The T Project is Singapore's first and only social service for the transgender community. You may learn more and support their work at

  2. Whatever negative comments you have be it religious or personally opinionated, here is NOT the place to go off. If for whatever reason you feel the need to preach or give your 2 cents, then do it privately. Just do not plague this space, mutual respect is so underrated, but as the saying goes, treat people on how you would like to be treated, and do everything sincerely and kindly because insults and hate will get you nowhere

  3. So lovely to hear Kristin's story! Sending you love ❤️!!!
    Ignore the trolls, leave them be with their own negativity. Let's put our focus and show our admiration and appreciation for this brave strong soul!

  4. This is another great doc @OGS! I love how you're making more forays into the taboo subjects. All of these things needs to be brought out into the open. This piece was respectful and broached the subject pretty well. No narrative or angle from y'all, just the human connection! I love it

  5. honestly, im still not used to transgender people especially since i havent met any yet. None of that is their fault of course, ill try to get comfortable enough to get along with transgender people. it's just so new and so unspoken of that it can be a bit jarring to know that you're talking to a trans

  6. thank you OGS, for this. it's touching to know that she has such supportive parents, and that she feels fulfilled. loving the animation and treatment of this clip too.

  7. Thanks for doing this OGS! I have some signed photos of these ladies from Bugis Street from the seventies, with handwriting behind. One day I asked my mum who these people were because I didn't used to work as a seamstress for these ladies from Bugis Street and she would get alteration requests from them.

    Listening to my mum, they were really nice and she made a a few friends, and apparently, those photos were given to her by those ladies and she kept them. She would always remember this joke where one of the ladies said that she also had to wear sanitary pads after their surgery down there, haha.

  8. Good job Kristen. Life is made to be full of challenges and now you have made your way back to your religion even tho you still have a woman’s body. As long as u repented, God will accept you when u pray.. dun listen to mean comments

  9. In the signs of the last day, one will be women dressing like men or vise versa. It is prohibited for a man to dress like a woman or act like a woman. Or for a woman to dress and/or act like a man. These thoughts come from shaytaan. You can't "feel" like a man. It doesn't make sense. And it is haram to modify your body, unless it is for medical reasons. So things like plastic surgery are haraam. Therefore, being transgender is haram. Astaghfirallah

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