By Brigite Salvatore
In my humble opinion, I think it is high time for us – especially trans women – to educate ourselves on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE).
In my few years, joining national pageants, not a lot of pageant organizers and even candidates know the simple SOGIE terms that are politically correct, and their differences. It might not sound a big of a deal for some, but if we want to be fully accepted and our rights be recognized, I think we should start recognizing and addressing ourselves in politically correct ways.
Beauty pageants such as inter-barangays and national ones are great platforms to use our voices and be heard. Please stop tolerating being called “Miss Gay”; enough already especially if the pageant is exclusive for people who identify as transgender women regardless of sex reassignment surgery/gender affirmation surgery (SRS/GAS) or if they have gone through hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because the fact is, it doesn’t matter if one has gone through those things. As long as you identify yourself as a woman and live your life as a woman, then you are a trans woman.
While I understand and respect that some pageants cast both trans women and gay men as the same category, let’s not overlook that we trans women are being called gay/bakla which some of us find offensive because we simply are not.
It seems like a small thing, really, when you think about it. But small things matter especially when these are the same small things that are used against us when we are denied employment, the same small things such as the gender markers on our IDs/passports that give reasons for immigration officials to interrogate us every time we travel even if we have all the means and requirements, the same small things that stop us from entering exclusive clubs or entertainment places.
Times have changed and it’s long overdue. We say that we are only being tolerated by our government and not recognized – TRUE, indeed!
But why do we tolerate pageant industry, which is one of our major platforms to not recognize us rightfully? If you know me well, you know these are the same exact reasons why you never see me joining “Miss Gay” pageant titles. It’s not because I’m too “maarte (picky)” to join barangay pageants and only choose to join prestigious ones. It’s because I believe in something and I stand for it.
I hope this post won’t raise an eyebrow… I have so much respect for the trans queens who made marks before me and those from my generation. But let’s use our strength to our advantage, our voices be heard, and our pageants be our platforms to be recognized.