Friday, April 30, 2010

China One outright discrimination against transgender Marla Bendini.

This needs circulation: China One club in the Clarke Quay area is another fucked-up institution.

Marla is an artist and pole-dancing performer who happens also to be a transwoman. China One had engaged her dance troupe for a gig, but mid-way through preparations, Marla was asked to leave the establishment without reason. Upon further query, the General Manager, who ordered her removal, claimed that she should know the reason for her removal. It harks back to a prior episode where she was asked to leave the club because her being trans is "is simply not their THING".

Well, China One, you're a fucking douche, and you should know why. We hope this gives you PR hell because it is simply not our thing otherwise.

And oh, by the way, FUCK. YOU.

Feel free to send love letters to them, and to save you the trouble of visiting their website:

China One
Block 3E River Valley Road
#02-01 Clarke Quay
Singapore 179024

Tel: +65-6339 0280

Marla's letter I reproduce in full:
29 Apr 2010 at 03:30
April 29, 2010

Acro Poleformers from Acro Polates, the pole fitness studio I train at, are performing at ChinaOne this evening. I was there with other performers as well as the studio director, Suzie Wong, and award-winning Pole Dance performer and instructor from Australia, Suzie Q. Things were going as planned and the performers did a great job during the 1st half of the performance.

Just before the 2nd half of the performance started, a bouncer came up to me and said that the manager wants to speak to me and wanted me to follow him outside the club. I obliged, even though the manager should come over and speak to me personally instead of having me escorted outside at his beck and call. I waited outside for a few minutes. but the said manager did not show up so I walked back into the club, even though the bouncer tried to stop me and said that I'm not allowed to enter.

When I was inside, I told that Suzie Wong and the performers that the club management wants me to leave and that I am not welcomed in the club. Suzie Wong explained to them that I am part of the group invited and we are here to support the performance. The bouncers was adamant that I leave and I am not welcomed. I told them that I do not want to create any trouble and I will wait outside.

I was greeted with a heated argument between the club managers upon stepping out. As it turns out, the manager was Lawrence (See story below). He was yelling at his colleagues and staff who "let her (Me) in". They explained to him that I was part of the guestlist and he was hissing with anger that no one informed him that they were letting guests in without his acknowledgment. I guess if he held all that power to who enters and who leaves, he should be working as a bouncer or a door host, not sit in his office counting his paycheck. So all this yelling and argument happened right in front of the club entrance, I was standing there and Suzie Wong came out soon after to see how I was doing. Lawrence, the GM, turned to me and started yelling at me saying that I should not step into ChinaOne again and he has told me so before. I asked why is he yelling. Suzie stepped in at this point and said she would not proceed on with the show because this is disrespectful. Finally, we agreed that this was between the management and I left the club to wait for them to finish the pole dance performance. The girls came down soon after and were noticeably upset about the situation.

I am very thankful and touched that my friends stood up for me. Even Suzie Wong, who was running a business, was prepared to give up this gig because of the way the management treated me due to my gender.

I love you girls- Suzie W, Suzie Q, Eunice, Karen & Kat and the rest of the girls who left earlier after the 1st half of the show.


September 4, 2009

I don't go to ChinaOne anymore because the management approached my transsexual friend while I was getting drinks at the bar. They told her to ask me to leave. They had no idea she was a transsexual as well. When I asked why, they were reluctant to give the reason. I asked to see the manager because none of the bouncers knew how to handle the situation because they were just acting on orders.

The General Manager, Lawrence, finally came out and said "I should know it myself."
He was rude and indignant as if I've done something shameful. I was not about to be pulled out of a club like that and have people trample all over me. I asked again why I should be asked to leave the club without a valid reason. Lawrence, the GM, replied again that he does not want to get into this and I should know the reason why. He was shifty and was almost hissing at me.

He wanted to check my ID, and again, I said if they gave me a reason, I would gladly give them my ID. He continued to evade my question and said "I should know why". I refused to leave without a valid reason- I've been there on many occasions and it is simply ridiculous to ask me to leave like so.

Finally, Lawrence (GM) gave up and said "OK, Not everybody knows you're a man."
To which, I promptly replied, "So what's the problem here?"
He said "This is simply not their THING"

I questioned their establishment- I am here to drink and enjoy myself, whatever ''THING"' ChinaOne is into seems to venture more than just a pub/club scene. I demanded a full refund of me and my friend's expenditure that night and left.

He finally apologised and said it is not his policy but the upper management. I said he is the General Manager and he should respect us and make changes to this 'unwritten' rule.

So here's to clubs and bars who think they can just discriminate transgenders on the premise that they are trying to run a 'respectable business'- we are fabulous and consider it an honour we fancy your club and choose to take our gorgeousness there.
Marla, we at the barn stand with you, and thank you again for shedding light on another disgusting establishment.

Please join Leona Lo and others in taking a stand against these flagrant (and subtle) discriminations against transgender people. Join the Facebook group and let's get organised!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visiting the Doctor While Fat

It seems like everytime I have something to say, it's because I've read something excellent that Melissa McEwan of Shakesville has written (I do read other blogs, really). This time, it's her post on going to the doctor while fat.

It's very well documented that up to 50% of doctors harbour a widespread bias against fat people. And we also know that men have to be a whole lot fatter than women before they're classed as fat, so this is a problem that disproportionately affects the fairer sex (as if we didn't have enough to deal with). In fact, the folks at Shapely Prose have a whole blog dedicated to collating stories of doctors offering misdiagnoses and all around disastrous advice on account of fat: First, Do No Harm. The stories therein are all from women. Granted that could just be how the blog readers skew, but I find it rather telling nonetheless.

Not one to be left out, here's my story.

I have been on many diets. The first one I embarked on was shortly after I was tagged for the TAF club in primary school and my parents thought they should do something. The last one I was on is the one I want to talk about. Oh, there were many in between, like any good fatty I've gone through periods of "eating well", "lifestyle changes" and even the goddamn Atkins diet (I have never ever wanted a piece of toast quite as badly as I did back then, and I can't even tell about you the mental torture involved in avoiding a lovely hot bowl of chicken porridge when you're sick). But the last one, the last one was the one where I was going to do it right. I wasn't going to be part of the 95% that gain back all the weight and then more. I decided that I would pay for a program that was presided over by healthcare professionals. You may have heard of it - the Dr. Bernstein diet.

Sure, I did the research beforehand. I read the forums where people on "maintenance" talked about gaining back the weight (people I assumed were cheating and just wanted to maintain the veneer of doing well). I read about how some people experienced hair loss and how others stopped getting their period on the diet (but you are monitored throughout the diet by health professionals!). I read all about these things, but I wasn't going to be one of them, it was going to work well for me. Of course it was. I was going on a Diet. This was going to Change My Life.

The diet involved keeping your caloric intake between 400-900 calories a day. Only that's not how it was framed. Rather, there was a list of foods that you were allowed in the quantities they were allowed in. And there were foods on that list you were discouraged from eating too often (to give you some idea, you weren't allowed things like carrots and peas, and if you wanted an apple, it had to be a small one). I did really well on it, then I ran out of money and couldn't continue the program, and I wasn't comfortable restricting my food intake so drastically once I wasn't under the constant care of health professionals (you get to talk to a nurse for 10 minutes a time three times a week) so I went to the "maintenance" phase. I'd already lost 30kg, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. I still read as "fat" but was probably closer to "plump".

The maintenance phase is where you can start "eating sensibly". Which any good dieter knows involves small amounts of carbs and smaller amounts of fat and lean protein portions the size of your palm. Two months in, I started experiencing episodes of chest pain. Not scary heart attack chest pains, more like I was wearing a bra that had been crossed with a boa constrictor. So I went to my doctor about it and was diagnosed with boobs that were too big. *cough* So I was sent away with a prescription for some massage therapy and was told to work out to strengthen the muscles in my back and chest.

So I did. But the episodic pain kept coming and it was worse each time. Twice I went straight to the emergency room because all I wanted was morphine to stop the pain (and also my partner was pretty freaked out that I was having such severe chest pains). Each time a report was generated, sent to my doctor and each time I was told that they were muscle cramps (obviously the first thing the ED did was to rule out a heart attack). I kept working out (which really helped with carrying the groceries home, I can't recommend it enough if you are able to fit it into your life) and I kept going to those massage appointments that are far less pleasant than you imagine. In fact, they hurt like hell. But not as much as those waves of pain that kept hitting me at random moments.

Eventually I worked out that if I chewed over-the-counter painkillers that contained codeine it'd dull the pain enough that I could just sit around and ride it out without having to keep presenting to the harassed emergency department staff. All for having boobs that were too big. What a burden to bear.

Except it had absolutely nothing to do with my impressive knockers. And I assure you that they are quite impressive.

I'd gone to Canada over school break (God bless the universal health care availabe in Canada...) and I got the now familiar pain again. Only this time it didn't go away. I'd made it through an entire bottle of Mersyndol (not recommended) over three days and it was still there, and more insistent with time. I'd lost my appetite and I was impossibly itchy all over despite the absence of any dermal symptoms. Then one night, like a knife through the fogged pain-haze was a bright, white stabbing pain, unlike anything I'd ever experienced in my life. This time, I called an ambulance.

Some laughing gas and some more morphine later, I was discharged and told to visit the GP the next day. Knowing that this could not possibly be big-booby-itis, and knowing that my original doctor was unlikely to reverse a diagnosis she'd held onto for the past three years, I went to my partner's father's doctor (who came highly recommended). That doctor took one look at me and panicked. He quickly scribbled a report, told me that I was severely jaundiced and made me assure him that my next stop after leaving his office was a hospital emergency room. He told me to stay there till I was admitted.

For the past three years, I had been experiencing gall bladder attacks. This time, the gallstone had moved and by the looks of things (i.e. bright yellow) it had lodged itself in my common bile duct. I was in liver failure (also explains why I was so damn itchy, hyperbilirubinemia would do that to you).

I needed my gallbladder out, and to complicate things, the surgeon also had to look for the stone that was stopping up my pipes. I think I was given the choice between being sliced open end-to-end and a laproscopic procedure. I can't remember, at this point I was on a morphine and benedryl drip. There was something about having to wait longer for laproscopy, I think. So I chose to be gutted. A week later and there was still no improvement. That's how long it took the people at the hospital to realise that instead of being a lazy fatty who was not invested in getting better, there was a second stone that was missed.

I will have you know that once the second stone came out, I did all the rehabilitative things they had me do. Twice and with enthusiasm.

So there's my story. I'm fat, I have large boobs, clearly my body couldn't support it despite having supported it all this time. Obviously the diet I was on was an unmitigated good and couldn't have caused anything like episodic pain consistent with a gallbladder attack (P.S. this is actually the #1 reason for gall bladder issues in young women).

I'll leave you here for today, but do remind me to tell you guys about the time where I presented at a doctor's office because I had violent diarrhea for the past three-four days and was given the "you should lose weight" talk. Oh and that time I went to ask a "family health professional" about whether my birth control pill was adequate contraception for someone of my heft and got a long lecture about health and weight loss instead. And and and and and and and there is so much more where this came from. Buy me a drink and I'll tell you all about it.