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.”
Aurora Tangcalagan – 32 years old from Cagayan de Oro City – identified as trans as early as when she was three or four years old. “I was really comfortable in identifying myself as female even if I was assigned male at birth,” she recalled, adding that transitioning happened for her only after college.
The youngest of six kids, Aurora was actually accepted by her Mom (with her Dad passing away before she transitioned) and sisters. Sady, subtle forms of discrimination were still experienced – e.g. “At first it was hard to express myself in the community, considering that I deal with many people on a daily basis. But it was very clear in those years before I fully transitioned that people questioned me, doubting me because I wasn’t ‘passable’ and looked like a man. It was undeniably hard. Discrimination was really evident. I had to compensate through my academic achievements.”
Aurora is a nurse with a postgrad degree (with two majors – Nursing Administrative Services and Medical Surgical Nursing – at Liceo de Cagayan University). Her work experience has been extensive – e.g. former DJ and now a program coordinators for Radio GMA; nurse in the Misamis Oriental Provincial Hospital; gave lectures on HIV for the Department of Health in Region X; and rendered services as a community-based HIV screening motivator.
Obviously, for Aurora, this need to “make up for being LGBTQIA” should be a no-no.
“It’s really a cliché here in the Philippines that members of our community are discriminated, and yet these people are striving hard to be acknowledged and validated by their families. They are breadwinners who provide everything. They spend on food, electric and water bills, and so on. You can’t deny the fact that they give money to loved ones. They just do it because they want to help. This has become cultural; for LGBTQIA people to help to be validated. This is also a misconception. You should not demand for LGBTQIA people to compensate for their validity; or before they are acknowledged. We’re also human. We also get tired,” she said.
Aurora is still in a relationship, even if it’s LDR. She thinks that looking for love in Cagayan de Oro can be difficult for LGBTQIA people. “The first one cheated on me; I just discovered he had another girlfriend. The second one ghosted me after two years. And the third one just toyed with me for two years. It’s hard to find love because of (the lack of) acceptance and respect.”
Many in the LGBTQIA community can be said to be fascinated with beauty pageant; and Aurora is among them. “I decided to join Queen of Cagayan de Oro 2022. A beauty pageant is a powerful tool for you to say what you want to say, to promote what you want to promote, regardless of whether those watching you support you or not,” she said.
The LGBTQIA community itself still needs a lot of fixing, so to speak.
“One of the issues I encountered… is the discrimination within the LGBTQIA community. It’s hard when people are actually demanding for rights, but won’t give the same rights to transgender women,” Aurora said.
Yet another issue for her is the lack of access to services, including hormones and medical procedures, if these are at all desired and/or needed. “I also found that many transgender women have hormonal imbalance because they self-medicate,” Aurora said. “They prioritize looking feminine over their health.”
For Aurora, “it’s as simple as being socially aware, socially involved, and being socially active.”
“Being aware in the sense that you are informed on what to do. And you have the interest to be informed. It’s useless if you inform someone who’s not keen to listen. Being socially involved means knowing everything is not superficial, and your role goes beyond picking up.
And for those with family members who are LGBTQIA, “you have to listen to (them) first before making judgments,” Aurora said. “Please take time to listen. Because at the end of the day, no matter how that person identifies as or expresses him/herself, they are still people, and they are still your family.”