This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”
“Call me ‘Love-love’,” Clent Axel Arena said, adding that her nickname used to be “Lablab”, but the former is “mas sosyal (classier).” She still uses – and gives out – the name assigned her at birth; but she said she now also likes using her “angga (nickname).”
Now 24, “nisugod ko mag-ingun-ani sa elementary; hilig jud ko mag-binabaye (I started living like this when I was in primary school; I desired to be a woman).” She was lucky since “supportive ako family.” So supportive in fact that “naa ko freedom kung kanus-a ko mulupad (I have the freedom to decide when I want to go wherever).”
Love-love is now in a long distance relationship; they’ve been going at it for 10 months now. “Nasa Zamboanga siya (He’s in Zamboanga).” This freedom is good for her since it allows her to also find herself, she said.
Despite having an anti-discrimination ordinance, Cebu City is infamous for the anti-trans occurrences in the city (e.g. being barred from establishments). So Love-love was asked if being trans in Cebu is hard(er) for her. “Dili (No),” she said. In fact, “mas kakita ko more opportunities as trans (I have been able to find more opportunities as a trans woman).”
But there was a time when she couldn’t identify with being trans. “Sauna, abi ko ang trans, kanang complete na (In the past, I thought being trans meant being ‘complete’ – i.e. underwent gender confirmation surgery),” she said. With this notion, “huna-huna ko, layo na kaayo sila. Wala pa ko nahimo, so dili ko puwede tawgon trans (in my mind, trans people have already attained much/reached far. I haven’t achieved a lot so I thought I couldn’t call myself trans).”
Her way of thinking evolved not so much with being informed (since many in her circle still believe this), as much as not caring anymore.
And this is a lesson she said she hopes others will also learn.
“Lugwa sila kung gusto sila mulugwa (Soar when you want to soar),” she said. “Dili malikayan nga muatubang ta sa discrimination, so keri ra. Lupad kung gusto mulupad (We can’t avoid facing discrimination, so it’s okay. Fly when you feel like flying).”