Melissa Tsang

Content writer, weathered runner, sex+ queer femmenist. Singapore.

Read this first

What I Know About Gon Chau Ngau Hor

I go back to work tomorrow, so I’m trying to sleep early. It’s always been hard, especially hard the past week, still especially hard in the coming days. I think about that Monday when we were so swamped with prep I only ever stopped at 430pm to change my pad lol, and then went straight back to open for dinner. The Brother came in slightly later, at 510, he was looking for his shit, I’d already laid out his stuff by his wok station. He watched me for a brief moment, then he said, “Gurl how are you so…powerful?”

“I’m not, I’m terrified and anxious but I try to hide it”
“Some days I want to give up, Meimei, it’s hard. Even grown men want to give up.”
“I can’t give up. I can’t give up because I’m responsible to you, to my minions, to the poor steamer boy across the room. He hasn’t had a break since morning, either. He hasn’t given up.”

Yesterday I was at this bourgeois wine-pairing dinner...

Continue reading →

Wok Tutorials, The Transcripts

February 18, 2017

We had this item on our CNY menu, pork knuckle on a bed of stir fried lettuce, topped with fatt choy and sauce. Fatt choy is this black moss that Chinese people like to eat during CNY; we just refer to it as “hai mo” (pubic hair). Now that CNY’s over, we’re selling the last few knuckles in stock. Today we were about to send out two orders, then the sous chef suddenly stopped me.

Sous: Hai mo
Me: no more hai mo, we’ve used the last of our hai mo
Sous: chuckles okay then, no hai mo
Kor: it’s a bak lo fu
Me: what?
Sous: LOL
Kor: Say with me. Bak.
Me: Bak.
Kor: Lo.
Me: Lo.
Kor: Fu.
Me: Fu.
Kor: Bak lo fu.
Me: Bak lo fu!
Sous: trying to recover from laughing Meimei do you have any idea what bak lo fu is
Me: no
Sous: white tiger. Or in this context, white tiger refers to a woman who has no hair down there. No hai mo.
Me: Oh.
Kor: Now the only question left...

Continue reading →

I’m a commis in a Chinese restaurant kitchen, this is what I do

I’m a 23-year-old Chinese Singaporean woman. After graduating culinary school in 2016, I started as a commis (also known as 马王, or minion) in a Chinese restaurant kitchen along Orchard road. This is a description of my everyday work, in English, written for friends and family who are curious.
The Structure of a Chinese restaurant kitchen

I drew a diagram of what our kitchen looks like, from where I stand (I only know how to hand draw and then upload a picture, pls forgive incompetence):


Dim Sum, 点心: They make the har gow, siew mai, XLB (little soup dumplings), carrot cake, cheong fun, and many other forms of dim sum and desserts. Because nearly everything there is made by hand, from scratch, they start work at 7am to finish their prep before service starts at 11am. Since we only serve dim sum in the afternoon, they get off work at 5pm, or whenever they finish their scheduled prep...

Continue reading →

My mother finally talks to me about sex

This morning, for the first time in my life, my mom and I had a conversation about relationships and sex.

It wasn’t so much a talk than a confrontation that required her to bring up the topic. It lasted only as long as the car ride to work, and involved many blocks of awkward silence.

My mom is not a very articulate person, so our arguments are never arguments - in that they’re not linear, goal-oriented dialogs. They’re more like her scattered lamentations met with either silence or resistance.

So even though I’ve recounted the conversation below, the one relevant detail was that she was confused, appalled, and very angry.

Mom: (angry outburst) Who is this guy you’re going out with? How come I don’t know anything about him? What does he do?

Me: What do you want to know?

Mom: Why? Because I’m your mother, I have the right to know!

Me: I meant what. What do you want to know?


Continue reading →

Sheila Jeffreys on BBC Woman’s Hour (Transcript)

“People changed lots of other personal things all the time. They dyed their hair and dieted themselves to near death. They took steroids to build muscles and got breast implants and nose jobs so they’d resemble their favorite movie stars. They changed names and majors and jobs and husbands and wives. They changed religions and political parties. They moved across the country or the world — even changed nationalities. Why was gender the one sacred thing we weren’t supposed to change? Who made that rule?” - Ellen Wittlinger

My Twitter feed was near-exploding with this TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) segment from BBC Woman’s Hour.

This is one of the many instances seriously, seriously misinformed cis people are given the time of day to opine about trans people, for the sake of ~debate~ and ~balance~.

I’ve transcribed 9:00 to 20:00 to the best of my abilities.

Jenni Murray...

Continue reading →


I never had a relationship with the library. I never even read much as a kid to begin with - every now and then I’d obsess over just one series, like “Artemis Fowl”, or Judy Blume’s “Fudge”, “Mary Kate and Ashley”, “Captain Underpants”, Lemony Snicket - but I wouldn’t call my reading a habit. I had more of a relationship with my Gameboy and kick scooter. Plus, when I read at all, I owned, rented, or borrowed from the tuition center.

So the thing that upsets me the most isn’t so much the pulping, but the fact that this is just one exercise out of a larger attempt to shut queer people out of public spaces, and out of public discourse. “Attempt” doesn’t even begin to capture the paranoia and obsession - We Are Against Pink Dot in Singapore freely admits their grand plans in the open group.

People hate it when queerness is visible, and they hate it when queer people behave without remorse...

Continue reading →

An eating disorder, a relapse, and 8 thoughts

This is one of the toughest things I’ve written, and it’s taken a while to put this down. Many ED survivors have told their stories and I thought I should try.

But sometimes narratives are messy and don’t have any sense of finality - mine’s like that. So here’re eight things I learned from my ED.

Very roughly, my story goes like this (and feel free to skip):

I grew up an overweight kid. When I was 14 I had a little success losing weight and somehow this spiralled into anorexia. I was crying half the time and I stopped talking to friends. My dad dragged me to the hospital, personally administered a blood test and an ECG, and told me that unless I wanted to die, I had to go to therapy.

I (resentfully) followed through with therapy. I switched schools - from Dunman High to VJ (IP) to try to start again. I picked up sport and made new friends. Eventually I was doing okay again.

When I...

Continue reading →

Gay penguins, children’s books, family values

Just yesterday, the group “We are against Pink Dot in Singapore” posted an update on their Facebook page. They wrote in to the National Library Board demanding the removal of LGBT-friendly children’s books “Tango Makes Three” and “White Swan Express” from its children’s collection.

NLB complied, and the books are no longer in circulation. More importantly, the NLB affirmed its commitment to “family values” in the books it adds to and removes from its collection.

Here is the screenshot of the post.

NLB_fundie screenshot.jpg

NLB has since been swamped with attention, and “We are against Pink Dot in Singapore” has removed that post.

Here is a letter I wrote to the NLB:

“Dear Sir/Madam,

I notice that the library has pulled the titles "Tango Makes Three” and “White Swan Express” from its children’s collection, because they weren’t in line with the library’s “pro-family” position.

But if we take a brief...

Continue reading →

We’re here and we’re queer - AMA

A few days ago, I was one of four LGBT panelists before a group of counselling students in Nanyang Polytechnic. Some were as young as 20 and some as old as 50+, and almost all of them had really scratchy knowledge about LGBT people, which just made it more exciting that they were even there.

The idea was to set up a snappy, rotating Ask Me Anything (AMA). The students would ask us any questions they had about LGBT people, and we were there because we wanted to answer them. Oogachaga hosted the evening, as it did the previous two live AMAs I’d participated in.

We broke the students up into four small groups, rotating the panelists in 20 minute intervals.


I spent about 50% of each 20 minute block talking about my life (“the usual”), and the other 50% taking questions.


The students asked terrific questions - by that I mean a good number of their questions bordered on offensive...

Continue reading →

Starting Up

I’ve always wanted to keep a blog, but never knew what to write about. I have a number of unrelated interests and didn’t think it’d make sense to write about all of them in the same place.

Since I already write (briefly and very informally) about social justice things from time to time, but on Facebook, I thought about logging my process at work.

I’m currently working on two things - evolving from content writing to full-stack marketing; and learning Ruby. I feel it’s a good idea to log, because I need all the writing practice I can get - plus it’s always good to articulate (and eventually revisit) all the progress I’m making.

Part of the reason I’ve been reluctant to start a blog is, I didn’t believe I’d have the discipline to keep it up. But that doesn’t make sense, because I don’t lose anything by trying and failing.

Another excellent reason to micromanage my work is the fact...

Continue reading →