When Kate Montecarlo Cordova noted that while there are many transgender organizations in the Philippines, the number of transgender rights advocates is not necessarily increasing, what with “organizations are splitting” and with divergent focuses (e.g. “Most of the transgender organizations are support groups, but are not concentrating more on the advocacy”)”. It is this that led her to initiate the formation of the Association of Transgenders in the Philippines (ATP), as a move to respond to “the need for solidarity among transgenders in the Philippines”. It is supported by community leaders who similarly believe in the power of alliance and network.
ATP actually started as an online connection, particularly with the creation of a Facebook group page and Facebook fan page, which eventually led to the development of its own website, the Philippine Transgender Movement, which now serves as a repository of information and documentation of trangender issues and experiences.
“We believe that the more united we are, the more power we have and more chances of airing our voices,” she said. ATP eyes to “serve as a venue for the Filipino transgenders to calibrate issues, definitions and advocacies… which (should) give us more strength to fight for our rights. Instead of the fragmentation, (ATP) is designed to unite both transgender men and transgender women for the attainment of a common goal – that is, transgender rights and gender equality.”
Among the issues raised by ATP are: transgender health, transgender human rights (including legal rights) and transgender empowerment.
“Since the group is new and young, the challenge is in bringing a big number of transgenders in one meeting or face to face discussion for calibration. In addition, the organizational structure is still in progress since advocates are busy with their respective organizations. Members who are new in advocacy also need support when it comes to the ins and outs of activism,” Kate said. “However, the challenges that we are facing are being addressed by empowering leaders to work simultaneously with their respective organizations (and ATP); as well as through continued and effective communication among the active members to sustain what was started.”
In a span of a month alone, ATP was able to get more than 100 members.
ATP eyes to further have “comprehensive alliances of the transgender groups, and the inclusion or active participation of all transgenders in the country,” Kate said. “We want to be the network of the transgenders in the Philippines, just as our name (suggests). (But) we also want to be the repository of transgender issues, experiences, activities, and to be the main promoter of transgender empowerment in the country.”
Anyone can join the group as long as his/her gender identity is different from his/her assigned sex at birth. Membership is also open to those who do not belong to the antiquated gender binary paradigm. Those interested are invited to go visit ATP’s Website, contact ATP, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at ATP’s Facebook page.