In the ’90s there was a club in Singapore called the Boom Boom Room with a cross-dressing comic called Kumar. People think of Singapore as very conservative, but it gave transpeople national identity cards that matched their gender identity long before western countries did.

Kumar was the Lenny Bruce of Singapore, but never got arrested for it. The Boom Boom Room was Singapore's most popular hangout for young transwomen and a must-see hot spot for curious western tourists.

Kumar’s jokes about trans-people, and gender-bending in general, make Dave Chappelle sound tame. He had everyone rolling on the floor laughing, including the trans-audience. There was always this kernel of truth they could relate to. There was no trans-pushback on the comedy.

I grew up in the US, but I still live in Singapore and have lots of transwomen friends here. When they see an article like this they just ask, “what’s with you guys”? Never had bathroom politics. Don’t care what JK Rowlings says. It's similar throughout SE Asia.

Identity politics in the west is creating more backlash than progress. Let’s just lighten up. We need to work on equal rights legislation and fairness, but no one is above being made fun of.

Meanspirited jokes rarely land well, so comics will learn what works.

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