Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) FIlipinas, a human rights organization that promotes the dignity and equality of transgender people in the Philippines and beyond, has expressed its support as it “applauds the courage of Mara La Torre, a transgender Filipina who filed, on 27 March 2014, a criminal complaint against her employer, a call center in Quezon City, for discrimination based on her gender identity before the Quezon City Office of the City Prosecutor.”
In spite of being informed that La Torre identified as female, the company in question insisted for La Torre to use restroom and sleeping facilities at work based on the sex reflected in her birth certificate: male.
According to GANDA Filipinas, landmark judicial and legislative rulings around the world have already resolved that transgender people, or those who identify as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth, should not suffer discrimination, harassment, abuse, bullying or any form of violence because of their gender identity.
In May 2012, Argentina approved its Gender Identity Law which states that “all persons have a right a) to the recognition of their gender identity; b) to the free development of their person according to their gender identity; c) and to be treated according to their gender identity.” A year later in May 2013, a Hong Kong transsexual woman’s right to marry according to her gender identity was upheld by the Court of Final Appeal. Just this month, the New York City Department of Education issued guidelines “intended to help schools ensure a safe learning environment free of discrimination and harassment, and to promote the education and social integration of transgender students.”
These developments show increasing recognition of the need to protect the civil, political, economic and sociocultural rights of transgender people who comprise the most marginalized members of society. Research has shown that transgender communities around the world suffer from disproportionate rates of unemployment, harassment, suicide and physical violence. The insistence of La Torre’s employer for her to use male facilities in the workplace is a form of violence against her person.
In view of La Torre’s case, the members of GANDA Filipinas call for the immediate passage in Congress of House Bill 110 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill of 2014, which penalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) and other status; the passage of a Gender Recognition Law in the Philippines that will recognize transgender Filipinos as people under the law in the gender they identify as; all businesses in the Philippines to adopt a clear human rights policy that recognizes their employees’ right to gender self-determination; and the amendment of the 2002 anti-discrimination ordinance in Quezon City to expand protections based on gender identity and expression and other status.