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.”
Amara Andrey Jaudian – now 23, from Manticao, Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, south of the Philippines – was around seven years old when she knew she’s trans. “(At that time, when) I saw dresses… or the clothes of my sisters, I wanted to wear them,” she said. “In my mind, they suited me better. So I really liked wearing them.”
The youngest of three kids, and the only one assigned male at birth (supposed to bear the “responsibility” of carrying the family’s name), Amara was supported by her parents.
“Neither physically abused me, or even said anything negative,” she said. “They support me, and this makes me happy.”
FACING THE HATE
Outside her home, though, it was a different story altogether.
In primary and secondary schools, “my classmates, my schoolmates, they frequently taunted me. They called me ‘Faggot! Faggot!’. They asked why I dressed the way I did, why I grew my hair this long even if I was assigned male at birth.”
But Amara was steadfast.
“I always knew I am (trans). And that what I’m doing is what’s right,” she said.
Amara added: “For me, discrimination continues to be an issue for LGBTQIA people in the Municipality of Manticao. I wish they’d start accepting us, and stop seeing us differently. It’s hard here. When people see trans people like me, they glare at you. Perhaps it’s because there aren’t a lot of trans people here. There aren’t many of us, unlike in other places. And so for me, it’s difficult.”
The hatred continued in college.
“Now I’m studying a college degree in marketing. Yes, I still experience discrimination (in college),” she said, adding that at least this is not “as hurtful anymore; just being mocked by classmates.”
Particularly, they laughed at the name given her at birth. “When we introduced ourselves in our first year in college, they laughed at my name; they said it’s masculine.”
HER TRUE SELF
Amara started taking pills/hormones in her 4th year high school.
“The first pills I took were Mom’s extras. And my savings from my allowance, I (also) used to buy pills,” she said.
Admittedly, “it scared me at first. (Some people said) there are bad effects, and that the pills could adversely affect the body. I knew (I shouldn’t have self-medicated), but I still used the pills because I really wanted to be feminine, and change my physical appearance.”
This is also admittedly costly – e.g. in a day, she takes four tablets. “(After buying at the start of the week, by) Friday or Saturday, I’d finish all. There are also hormone combinations, so it’s costly.”
This is why, Amara said, her long-term plan is to find work to – first – help her family; and to eventually be able to look after herself.
Amara has a partner now; they have been together for one year and two months already.
“He gave a comment on one of my Facebook photos. I responded to his comment. Then he directly messaged me. We got to know each other better. And there… we learned to love each other,” she smiled.
And she hope the love she found from her family and her eventual partner will also be had bo other LGBTQIA people.
“For parents who can’t accept their children who are part of the LGBTQIA community, love them fully. Don’t deprive them of love even if they’re like that – gay or… whatever they may be. They’re still your children,” she said.
Amara added: “To people who continue to discriminate against us, I hope you’d just accept us. And hopefully you’d stop discriminating because we’re also humans; we also get hurt. When you see us, stop looking at us like we’re odd, like we’re strange creatures. Hopefully here in Manticao, they’d already accept us and for discrimination to stop because we’re also humans, and we also get hurt.”
REACH YOUR DREAMS
To push for acceptance, she believes in the importance of LGBTQIA organizations.
“For me, it is only right to have an LGBTQIA organization in the Municipality of Manticao. This allows us to show we have importance/value in the Municipality of Manticao. That we don’t just exist as LGBTQIA people; we also help people,” she said.
And to younger LGBTQIA people, Amara said that – first – they “should have dreams/aspirations. You should have a goal in life.” Of course it helps to finish studying. This way, “your education is your weapon; it will be your source of pride that even if you’re LGBTQIA, you can still accomplish something,” she ended.