Mabuhay magazine – through Eastgate Publishing Corporation – has expressed its “sincere apologies for the trouble caused by the unfortunate choice of title in our In the News section” of the June issue of the inflight magazine of Philippine Airlines (PAL).
In a letter received by Outrage Magazine on July 3, Lynette Lee Corporal, managing editor at Eastgate Publishing Corporation, said that the publication never intended to make fun or mock the transgenders, or the LGBT community in general.
“Neither was the news article meant to incite hatred nor ridicule for the LGBT community. The title that we chose was simply – and quite innocently – a play on the ‘Miss Universe’ title, which people are so familiar with,” Corporal wrote.
She admitted, however, that “we do realize that there are still a lot of misconceptions about the transgender community and innocent lapses may occur from time to time. We are always after clarity and increased awareness of important issues in society and this is one of those times when we are one with you in correcting misconceptions or misimpressions about transgenders.”
The letter was a response to the June 30 letter of Outrage Magazine Editor, Michael David C. Tan, who noted a gender-insensitive mistake in the issue for the month of June of Mabuhay. In a section called “In the News”, a short paragraph deals with the decision of Miss Universe to allow transgenders to compete in the annual beauty pageant, after letting 23-year-old Jenna Talackova compete in the Miss Universe Canada last May 2012. The title, however, stated: MISS…TER UNIVERSE?
“Referring to TG women as ‘Mister’, as the title does, is erroneous and, yes, insensitive. Doing so in a derisive manner, as the title ends up insinuating, is even more aggravating,” Tan stated.
Tan noted the need to better understand the concept of transgenderism. “This does not completely reflect the TG experience, but transgenderism has been somewhat simply defined as the ‘non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth’. With this, Ms Talackova may have been born male, but she IS a woman (she started hormone therapy at 14, and she even had sex reassignment when she was 19). Imposing heteronormative concepts on her personal sense of identity is specious,” he added.
For Tan, complaining over a short article may be considered “akin to making a mountain out of an anthill – after all, the entire TG article is but a few lines. However, while it may just be a few lines, alas, we cannot, and should not just dismiss it as such.”
This is because of the continuing disadvantaged position of transgenders even in the LGBT community. In a report (Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey) released in February 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), it was noted that that 90% of TG people faced discrimination at work, and were unemployed at double the rate of the general population; over half had been harassed or turned away when attempting to access public services; and 41% of those surveyed reported attempting suicide, over 26 times the rate of 1.6% in the general population.
According to the study, “these numbers were greatly related to other factors tested, increasing for people who had lost a job due to discrimination (an especially relevant factor because transgender people faced double the general rate of unemployment, and 90% faced discrimination at work), were harassed at school (which occurred to almost eight out of every 10 people who were transgender or expressed gender non-conformity in grades K-12), had little household income, or were a victim of assault.”
“It may sound simplistic, but how we address TGs can start the big changes in the way we treat them. On this, we cannot highlight enough the power of words in aiding LGBTs find general acceptance,” Tan said.
Tan also noted the big number of people flying using the Philippines’ national flag carrier. Figures from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) show that, for the months of January to March this year alone, PAL had 1,097,272 international passengers. Similarly, the numbers of its local passengers reportedly grew by 9% for the same quarter (compared to the same period a year ago).
“The big number of people who see Mabuhay cannot be underestimated – we just hope that the information they get is not, in any way, anti-LGBT,” Tan said.
To rectify the issue, Mabuhay has said that it will change the title of the said article in its iPad edition.