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TEAM Cebu: Starting the flame for the Bisaya transmen community

TEAM Cebu’s mantra is said to focus on embracing diversity, as it eyes to help estalish “a world that embraces the diversity of human sexual orientations and gender identities, recognizing that diversity is not deviance and that regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, trans rights are human rights.”

In August 2014, the Transman Equality and Awareness Movement (TEAM) Cebu was formed by a few Cebuano transmen. It was helmed by Chase Tolentino who initiated the call for interest, and then joined by a few others to form what eventually became the pioneering Bisaya transman organization.

TEAM Cebu’s mantra is said to focus on embracing diversity, as it eyes to help estalish “a world that embraces the diversity of human sexual orientations and gender identities, recognizing that diversity is not deviance and that regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, trans rights are human rights.”

For Chase, TEAM Cebu is different from Manila-based organizations like PinoyFTM and TransMan Pilipinas in that they do not strive in having nationwide membership. “In fact, one of the reasons for the formation of the organization was to make sure that the transmen in Cebu were not left behind,” Chase said, adding that “striving to become a nationwide organization would require more manpower and resources.”

For TEAM Cebu, “we exists… to assist transmen in their transition by providing information and support. We also wish to raise public awareness and acceptance of transpersons through education with the end goal of reducing discrimination and violence, as well as to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs through sexual health education specifically tailored for transmen,” Chase said.

As the only transgender male group in Cebu, encountering challenges is inevitable. But TEAM Cebu stands strong, representing Bisaya transmen in various forums such as the PMHA Conference in Cebu and transgender gatherings in Manila.

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“I wouldn’t say it’s a big contribution, but we do grab every opportunity to educate people about the different sexual orientations and gender identities, and provide relevant information about the transgender community specifically about transgender men,” said Van Go, one of the pioneering members of TEAM Cebu. “Other than that, we always welcome transmen to our group who need access to trans-related needs.”

As for the organization’s future plans, it intends to improve the organizational structure and to develop sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) modules that they can then use when rolling-out SOGIE lectures in different sectors and fields (medical, business, et cetera).

But even now, TEAM Cebu has already started touching lives.

“Being a part of TEAM Cebu has given me a support group, reminding me that I’m not the only ‘transguy’ out there who is going through challenges. The members of TEAM Cebu come from different walks of life and have different circumstances, but we help each other out the best we can by providing emotional support, sharing fitness motivation and tips, or just an understanding presence when we’re struggling with life,” said Dan Arrojado, one of the members of TEAM Cebu. “TEAM Cebu gives me a safe space to be myself.”

For those interested to be a member of TEAM Cebu, the application form is available HERE. You can also check the group’s website; Facebook page; and Youtube channel.

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