For more than three decades now, Judai Martinez Mendoza has been serving perhaps as the country’s sole transpinay in the Philippine police force, being a non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP). A medical technologist by training, she is the forensic chemical officer of PNP Crime Laboratory 7 in Cebu City.
Judai was once cited for contempt for cross-dressing in a court hearing. Instead of being disheartened, she took this experience as one of the key challenges that made her push for gender equality in a very macho workplace. Now, she takes pride of the confidence of the Regional Trial Courts in Cebu City and Cebu province in her capacity to testify on cases on drugs as well (on occasion) on rape and homicide. In 2007, she was awarded as the Non-Uniformed Personnel of the Year during the anniversary of the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Her struggle for respect as a transgender officer in law enforcement didn’t come easy. She also experienced harassment at work.
“A couple of years back, I had this encounter with a lawyer. He sort of harassed me thinking that me being what I am, I would just grab the opportunity he was offering (sex) with a click of his fingers. All this in exchange for a favor regarding a case I was handling. Of course, the favor was denied outright. I felt so harassed then. It was a lady lawyer friend who thought that I should come out with a complaint against the harassing lawyer who introduced me to the legendary late Tonnette Lopez of Gahum” Judai recalled.
Judai also cited that discrimination among transwomen continues to occur in Cebu City. “This particular PAGCOR branch does not allow transwomen wearing dresses and skirts to enter its premises. Other bars also have the same policy. A reason (cited) for this policy was that most transgenders in dresses are profiled as prostitutes… Mind you, not all of us are into that kind of thing, just as not all heterosexuals are in that kind of profession.”
She is not currently a member of any LGBT group, but Judai signified her openness to assist in any way she can.
Judai also expressed her hopes for the current developments in the Filipino LGBT community.
“There are a lot of LGBT communities sprouting up… and they should all be rolled into one big group like family… They should all be united… No factions,” Judai ended.