A different person
Helping others has in turn helped June, who is “forty-five going on twenty-five” this year, and single because she does not see the need for a boyfriend. She named herself “June” after her best friend; her Chinese name, Chua Ruo Si (蔡若丝), means silk. Silk: soft, delicate, yet it has such a hardiness that it can be transmuted into a bulletproof vest.
Seeing the real-world problems that her residents face makes her realise how insignificant and small her past troubles and inconveniences were. “If there’s a long queue at a restaurant, I’d just head to another F&B place. If the item I want at Uniqlo is sold out, I don’t need to buy it. I don’t need to go see the northern lights; just send me a postcard. Today, a cup of tea, a good book, that’s all I need.” In a world plagued by the “fear of missing out” apprehension, June’s take on life is refreshing.
Perhaps the person with the biggest influence on her life was her sister Irene, who passed away in 2015. June describes her as someone who “would go all the way to help her friends”. “Back when I was still a sex worker, I could never understand why she would want to do so — I was full of pent-up angst because I knew I had so much more to offer, but I could not find a job that paid as well as sex work. And she said to me something that has stayed with me all these years: ‘It’s because we are blessed, so we must give more.’”
Edit: Many thanks to reader Clara Talbert, who pointed out that in an earlier version of the article, the use of the word “transgenders” when referring to transgender people is offensive. Any usage of the word “transgender” as a noun now denotes a perception or an opinion.