Personal Stories: Halanna

My name is Halanna*
and my passion is orchids.

I've known since I was 7
It all started with my Mum's silk scarf. Guys didn't wear scarves then. It was like an awakening.. I like skirts and heels and stockings. I wasn't so much into bras and panties, it was more the external clothing, I was very attracted to the style. From thereon, I remember asking my Mum to teach me how to cook, clean, wash... you know, all the housewifey things. It all seemed to very natural to me.

My Mum knew but was in denial
When I was 12 my parents sent me to a psychiatrist for 'strange behaviour'. The report came out saying I have "stress disorder". No, I'm supposed to have GID, all this stress was because you refused to let me come out.

I started experimenting at university
I had read a book called "My Husband Wears My Clothes", and that triggered my search. Other than my own studies, I started my own research on men wearing skirts, wearing girls' things..

I've got a degree in horticulture
My dream was to be an orchid farmer but things didn't quite work out with the company I was with. I joined another company and became a nursery manager. I found it suitable at the time because I had wanted to hide away from people. While there, I started to get requests to do garden renovation and design. That's when I realised that I'm actually quite a people's person.

My boss didn't like the way I dressed 
It wasn't even flamboyant or anything, just very androgynous. He was very upset about it. He's Christian, I'm a Christian too but he didn't have to do that. He said it didn't suit our "company image" and that's when I got pissed off. What company image? How is it more important than providing good service and a very good product and making people very happy with what you're doing? That way of thinking is so old school.

I'm married (to a woman) and we have two children together
We got married right after university. We got to know each other in secondary school and had been best friends for 9 years before we started dating. I told her the second month we were together... I said, "Look, I'm going to tell you something because I don't want any secrets." Even though she's known all along, she never expected me to seriously transition.

We're both very different people
We have different tastes in clothes, makeup etc., although we are both into BDSM. We can talk to each other about anything. We've always gotten along. Things are a little tense now because of my decision to transition, but more so because of business and money issues. She once said, "I know you're a woman and I can't change you, that's who you are."

My wife identifies as a straight woman
but I think there's more to that. She doesn't want to admit that she's bisexual. Her goal was to have two kids. We've done that, so what now? I think now she's searching herself..

My kids call me Dad
and they don't ask questions.. because when they were born, I already started transitioning. I won't tell until they ask. There's no point in telling them information that cannot be processed.

Being transgender is only part of the package
It's not the whole package. People engage you not because of who you are but because they love your work. Correct? You go to a restaurant not because the chef is a nice guy, but because you like the dishes.

What Singapore lacks
is anti-discrimination laws. That's it! Having said that, whenever I go out and meet people, I've hardly faced discrimination. New clients are usually not used to it.. as in, how to address me. But I will tell my clients later on that I am transgender. Once I get to know them better, no problem. You know why? Because I'm a specialist in what I do.

People say queers are more talented
especially in creative fields like design, fashion, hairdressing, etc. Do you know why they say that? I only realised this in the last year or so... It's because they work very hard. We all have the same brain. But we work doubly hard to develop that skill. So that people will accept them for who they are, the work they do, and not their orientation or what they see in front of them. That's why I do what I'm doing now. Why I choose to be very specialised in this skill that very few people will have.

My advice to other cross-dressers/trans*people who do not specialise in anything in particular...
Go and find it. Find. Search. Search yourself, what you love. Put your whole body into it, your mind, your whole being into it. Be damn good at it.

To me, starting my own company, it's nothing but to top. Nothing but to be up there, very popular, high in demand, win awards. I've won a few team awards already.

It’s a calculated risk. Sometimes you gotta tahan.. you don’t get to go travelling once a year, Christmas you don’t get to buy things for others, or struggle to pay your bills. Because the project hasn’t come in.. and you haven’t got the funding, you gotta tough it out a bit. I’m going through that, still.. Hopefully after next year we won’t have this problem, and I can help pay my parents off.

If I wasn't married with kids, maybe I wouldn't be so aggressive in what I do. They motivate me. I'm the sort of fella if I don't have a kick in the arse, I'm a slacker. 

I'm on hormone pills, but a very low dose
because I'm very scared I'll go crazy, like cannot mentally function.. I cannot afford that now. I had mood swings when I first started. I've been on hormones for four years now, and I take one pill a week. I'm a bit scared, but I might want to up the dose soon. Maybe two a week. I buy the pills overseas. I know exactly what I'm after. I research before I buy it. I'm a science student [laughter]

The pill, it changes my body, changes my face shape, I feel better.. grows a bit here.. makes it much better..

I've got humongous homophobia 
because I got abused before. Tricked into sexual activities by classmates when I was 12 and 14. So I have humongous phobia of another guy's genitals. I don't think it'll go away. If it wasn't for those incidents, I would probably transition properly. But I'd probably still be into females. 

I don't really think of the past stuff. I just look forward. For me, the only way is up. 

I have written two books
and intend to release them this year, in 2015. One is called "Foraging", it's about finding food in urban places. And the other is titled "To Be Myself", which is self-explanatory. It focuses mainly on my transition, why I decided to start my own company... to be myself, to give the best to others and to use my talent really well. There's also going to be an exhibition about me, my life.The best part about all this is my parents still don't know of my transition.

*names have been changed to protect the individual's privacy

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