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Empowering trans people to deal with #LGBTQIA hatred in Northern Mindanao

#Transgender woman Gemini Elorde Matulac from Cagayan de Oro may have been accepted by her family, but she experienced hardships in the community – e.g. rejected by an employer for her #SOGIESC. She believes education helps; and this includes in the #LGBTQIA community where being trans continues to be misunderstood.

This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, 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 LGBTQIA 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.”

Gemini Elorde Matulac – 25; a resident of Cagayan de Oro City even if she originally came from Valencia City, Bukidnon – knew even when she was young that she’s transgender.

“I think I knew that I’m transgender, that I’m like this – a woman – when I was in primary school,” she said. “I acted differently when compared to my male siblings. I liked wearing women’s clothes. I wanted to grow my hair long. I wanted to always have rosy lips. So even in primary school, I already knew deep in myself that I’m a woman.”

FAMILY ACCEPTANCE

As the fourth of seven kids, Gemini was somewhat lucky that her family accepted her. “I am, perhaps, one of the luckiest trans persons in the world. I never had issues with my family; they accepted me fully.”

Her mother was, in fact, the one to buy things used by women for Shane to use – e.g. make-up, clothes, skin care products, et cetera. “Mom has been buying all these for me since I was in high school,” she said.

Even her father, who was in the army, “accepted me.”

For Gemini, the acceptance is needed particularly as transgender people face a world that may not be as accepting. This is because “your family becomes your foundation.”

HATRED FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS

“Yes, I experienced discrimination,” Gemini said. For instance, “I am an Education graduate, and I applied for work in a private school here. But I was rejected because of my SOGIESC… because of the way I look. They asked me: ‘How will children learn if their teacher looks like you?’ They questioned the way I dressed since ‘You’re a man’; and that this could confuse the young students. So they rejected my application.”

Looking back, “That time I experienced discrimination, I was hurt. I lost interest in pursuing that profession to teach,” Gemini said.

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Sadly, similar to other LGBTQIA people who get discriminated, Gemini said that “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to cling to. I didn’t know who to approach; and that maybe people I’d approach will just laugh at me. This is why I just ignored that discriminatory act.”

On this, Gemini said that people should be open minded. “We should broaden the way we think. Whatever rights you have or receive as males and females, we should also receive because we’re also human. You have no right to judge us because you’re not God,” she said.

LOVE IN C.D.O.

Gemini has a partner now. “After being alive for 25 years, this is the first time I can say that there’s a man who loves and accepts me as I am,” she said.

All the same, she knows finding love as LGBTQIA is not always easy.

“It’s really hard to find love because … you know, we don’t have what men look for in a woman,” she said.

CREATING COMMUNITIES

For Gemini, “it’s important to have trans organizations. This is to make trans people feel that they’re important. In case they have problems, trans people would have an organization to go to. This is important in a place like the Philippines where hate crimes happen, especially among transgender women.”

These organizations, said Gemini, can also help trans people as they transition.

“Transitioning is common among trans people in our place. This is particularly true among younger trans women who transition on their own. They don’t consult doctors to ask what medicines are right for them. They put their health at risk. We should pay attention to this as this is alarming,” she said.

Gemini believes that education can help deal with LGBTQIA problems.

“Even LGBTQIA people do not know a lot about transgender people, about transsexuals. For many, you need to undergo gender affirmation surgery before you can become trans. For them, if no surgery was done, then you can’t be trans. You’re ‘just gay’. So we need to educate LGBTQIA community members, make them aware. So they’d understand the definitions of every SOGIESC, as there are a lot,” Gemini said. “So maybe the best thing to do to deal with discrimination is to educate people about SOGIESC. Most especially among LGBTQIA people, as this could lessen discrimination.”

WORDS OF WISDOM

“What I can say to younger trans people who are planning to transition is to get more information first, to ask older trans people. This is so you’d know more, and be advised on what to do. Do not self-medicate. Know more so you don’t have regrets later.

And to the family members who continue to not accept LGBTQIA people, “we are already living in the 21st Century,” Gemini said. “Generations are evolving. So accept your children if they’re trans, gay… or whatever you may refer to them. Just accept them. There’s nothing wrong with being trans, or being part of the LGBTQIA community. There’s nothing wrong with that. As long as they’re not doing anything bad, just accept them.”

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