“I never thought of becoming an LGBT advocate,” admitted Joshen Manuel, adding that “I only wanted (to) transition (female to male).”
But then, when he was about to reach his first year in Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), “I experienced embarrassing situations,” Joshen recalled. For instance, he was held at the immigration counter “just (for them) to verify my identity.” He also heard of “discrimination stories from my colleagues.” It was then that “I realized that I have to do something about this.”
In August 2012, Joshen helped (with Nil Nodalo, Deiniel Cayosa, Ira Nunez, Prince Eagle, Jack Aquino, Red Tomines and Brent Argote) in the formation of TransMan Pilipinas (TMP), which offers support to other transmen in the Philippines, and educate the society at large about the transgender community.
Joshen is now a member of the board of directors of TMP.
“I believe that my part could at least contribute in minimizing those difficult situations (that I encountered),” he said.
Joshen believes that the Philippines continues to hold outdated stereotypes about LGBTs. As such, “there is a need for more promulgation about equality (for and) from the LGBT community,” he said. Specifically for a transgender like him, he wants some focus placed on the legal recognition of the transgender identity through the “legality of our documents, such as in changing our of name and changing of gender marker to avoid confusions and wrong judgment from the public.”
It is TMP that inspires Joshen. “Especially our motto: ‘TRANSMIT LOVE. TRANSCEND ACCEPTANCE. HATE NO MORE.’ It encourages me to continue serving the members in the best way that I could.”
Joshen may have been “just hiding in the closet, afraid of rejection from others,” as he said it, “but as years passed, I was… accepted especially by my family and friends (as) I showed them that being a transgender is not a hindrance to achieve (the) stable life (I have) right now. I really believe that perseverance is key to success, and this is one… that I am sharing with our members. I always tell them that someday they could all surpass the hardships they are facing right now.”