Short answer: If she says she is, she is.
So Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is gunning to be vice president of the Philippines in the May 2022 elections, is ruffling feathers particularly among those aligned with current VP Leni Robredo, who – herself – is targeting the presidency because of her claim that she’s part of the LGBTQIA community.
Speaking to members an LGBTQIA organization aligned with her father, Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Sara is said to have said she loves LGBTQIA people because she is one.
There are… additional statements that could cause confusion – i.e. Sara then associated the aforementioned claim with her preference to do work stereotypically done by men, and to present herself in a manner also stereotypically associated with men (e.g. shaving her head).
In a way, therefore, Ms Naomi Fontanos of trans organization GANDA Filipinas Inc. was right when she said that “no, Inday, sporting short hair doesn’t make one a man. Saying so affirms traditional gender roles that are oppressive to the #LGBTIQ community w/c you’re falsely claiming to be part of.”
But – here’s the catch – claiming outright that Sara’s identity is not what she says it is, is wrong.
This needs to be stressed since many have been claiming Sara’s identity is this or that, as if speaking for Sara herself. I’ve seen online posts that went as far as saying that – if Sara is LGBTQIA – then they’d rather not be LGBTQIA anymore (in itself problematic as it promotes the notion that being LGBTQIA means one has to “conform” to someone’s idea of what “LGBTQIA” is supposed to be; and if one doesn’t fit it, then these self-declared gatekeepers won’t give others the space within the LGBTQIA community).
Whenever we discuss sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) 101, we always emphasize the importance of “self identification”.
So – yeah – Sara may be confusing gender identity with gender expression. Or maybe she’s not. I don’t know her enough to know her way of thinking. For that matter, I am not her; and I can’t speak for her. So – to stress – what she says she is, she is.
For me, the conversations – particularly since we are perhaps being queer-baited, or not – should also be focused elsewhere, i.e. on what those gunning for public posts have done and plan to do to make society more inclusive of LGBTQIA people.
Fontanos rightfully lamented that Sara – as mayor – has yet to sign the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Davao City’s anti-discrimination ordinance; though Sara’s local administration claimed it established the Rainbow Magnegsyo Ta Day, a livelihood training and business capital assistance program for members of the LGBTQIA community.
Extending this discussion to the other side of the political spectrum, VP Leni has long been cited for being pro-LGBTQIA; but at the same time, notice how no one (even among her staunchest supporters) is extensively discussing her “separate but equal” position re marriage equality; the inclusion in her senatorial slate of re-electionist Sen. Joel Villanueva, who has been repeatedly called out for opposing the prompt passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate; and her decision to choose Sen. Manny “masahol pa sa hayop” Pacquiao as her preferred president if she’s not running for the same office.
Again, refocus the conversations.
These – i.e. what they did, are doing and what they plan to do – should be what we focus on.
Not (just) Sara’s self-identity.
Because – again – in the end, that’s hers to make.