LGBTQI Filipinos lament uphill battle for passage of ADB in Senate
The Anti-discrimination Bill (ADB) that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos may not see the light of day, considering the current pace of its (non)development in the Senate, where it continues to languish.
The Anti-discrimination Bill (ADB) that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos may not see the light of day. This is considering the current pace of its (non)development in the Senate, where it continues to languish.
(Re)filed in the 17th Congress on December 7, 2016 as Senate Bill No. 1271 by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the legislative status of the ADB is still listed as “Pending Second Reading, Special Order (12/14/2016)” in the official website of the Philippine Senate. As per the office of Sen. Hontiveros, SB 1271 is still only up for interpellation in the Senate.
Meanwhile, its counterpart in the Lower House (the House Bill No. 4982, otherwise known as the SOGIE Equality Bill) was already passed on September 20, 2017. This was the first time it went this far in 11 years.
HB 4982 – sponsored by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Party-List Rep. Tom Villarin, AAMBIS-OWA Party-List Rep. Sharon Garin, Negros Ocicidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, An Waray Party-List Rep. Victoria Noel, Pangasinan Rep. Toff de Venecia, Bataan Rep. Henedina Abad, among others – was passed in the House of Representatives after only over a year. In total, the bill got the nod of 197 congresspeople, with none opposing it.
The very first ADB was filed in the 11th Congress by Akbayan partylist Representative Etta Rosales. That version of the bill was approved on third and final reading in the 12th Congress, but failed to gain traction in the Senate. It was again only in 2006, during the 13th Congress, when the ADB reached second reading.
Sans progress in the Senate, SB 1271 now seems bound to follow the path taken by Rosales’ bill almost 20 years ago.
In a statement released to Outrage Magazine, Hontiveros said: “We must imagine a future in which hate has no place. The SOGIE Equality Bill has been filed and re-filed in the Philippines Congress for the past 19 years. Now is the time to enact this important piece of legislation.”
Hontiveros added: “I welcome the House of Representatives’ final nod to its version of the bill and likewise urge my colleagues in the Senate for us to catch up. It is our commitment to human rights, equality and fairness to all.”
WRONG NOTIONS OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION
Too many people ERRONEOUSLY associate the ADB with legislating marriage equality in the Philippines. In fact, the ADB only eyes to prevent discrimination from happening to ALL PEOPLE irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – here, including heterosexual people, who also have SOGIE and should also not experience discrimination because of their being straight.
In the case of HB 4982, cited as discriminatory are:
- Denial of access to public services
- Including SOGIE as a criteria for hiring or dismissal of workers
- Refusing admission or expelling students in schools based on SOGIE
- Imposing disciplinary actions that are harsher than customary due to the student’s SOGIE
- Refusing or revoking accreditation of organizations based on the SOGIE of members
- Denying access to health services
- Denying the application for professional licenses and similar documents
- Denying access to establishments, facilities, and services open to the general public
- Forcing a person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter one’s SOGIE
- Harassment committed by persons involved in law enforcement
- Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the SOGIE of a person without consent
- Engaging in public speech which intends to shame or ridicule LGBTQ+ persons
- Subjecting persons to harassment motivated by the offenders bias against the offended party’s
- SOGIE, which may come in the form of any medium, including telecommunications and social media
- Subjecting any person to gender profiling
- Preventing a child under parental authority from expressing one’s SOGIE by inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily or physical harm or by causing mental or emotional suffering
Any person who commits any discriminatory practice enumerated in the bill may be penalized by a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000; or jailed for no less than one year but not more than six years or both, at the discretion of the court. The court may also impose upon a person found to have committed any of the prohibited acts the rendition of community service in terms of attendance in human rights education and familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.
But pessimism is already invading the ranks.
According to Bubsie Faustino L Sabarez III, national chairman of LGBT Pilipinas, “expected ko na po na malabong makapasa sa Senate ang ADB (I already expected for the ADB not to pass in the Senate),” he said.
For Sabarez, a big part of this is Hontiveros herself, the sponsor of the bill, who is among the main detractors of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte since she belongs to the opposition party. The ADB – in this sense – is now something that is “from (the realm of the) political to politicized”, thereby unfortunately seemingly leaving LGBTQI Filipinos as just political fodder.
For Aaron Bonette of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center), politicians are largely to blame because “pinapairal nila ang personal beliefs and interests nila instead na isulong ang interes at karapatan ng mga taumbayan – ang LGBTQI community, in this case (They prioritize advancing their personal beliefs and interests instead of advancing the interests and rights of the people – the LGBTQI community in this particular case).”
For Bonette, this is sad because “this is a manifestation that legislation is often only made to benefit those who make them.”
FULL OF EXASPERATION?
Naomi Fontanos, who heads Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, said that, “politically, we have the numbers as there are more supportive senators than those opposing it.” And so for her, “it seems to me that the delay is hypocritical (particularly) if you look at the senators who are causing the delay. Sen. Vicente Sotto III is from the showbiz industry peopled by lots of LGBTIQ folks. Sen. Manny Pacquiao keeps saying he has LGBTIQ people in staff. And Sen. Joel Villanueva even released a message for Pride month. So why then are they delaying passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate, which, when passed into law, will provide badly needed protection to LGBTIQ Filipinos from discrimination?”
Fontanos added that “in the case of Sen. Villanueva, it is much worse since he is listed as a co-author of the bill.”
From Mindanao, Ash Gevera of the United Lesbians of Davao said that “in all honesty, this is very frustrating.” For Gevera, “I honestly think it is not fair that the Senate could allocate time entertaining (Sen. Antonio) Trillanes’ triviality and not give time to actually pass this bill which is far way more important that Trillanes’ PowerPoint presentations. I also do not also appreciate how Sen. Manny Pacquiao is able to preach about having only two kinds of people in the Philippines who should have rights (i.e. babae at lalaki).”
The dilly-dallying, said Gevera, is unnecessary. “They should already just pass the ADB,” she said. “We LGBTQI people (exist). That’s a fact. We should be dealt with rightfully. We also deserve to have our rights.”
“The passing of the SOGIE Bill is not a discriminatory bill to non-LGBT believers, but rather, it is a move towards advancing and strengthening the protection of the underprivileged and most commonly abused members of the society elsewhere. It is significantly similar as the bills we pass in connection to protecting the rights of the Lumads, and even those who do not have any religion,” said Alvin Toni Gee Fernandez of Mujer-LGBT Organization in Zamboanga City. “It is highly imperative that we take into consideration the existence of human rights violations and abuses towards the member of the LGBTQI+ community, which leads to one basic connotation; the existing human rights law is not enough to protect those belonging to the community herein mentioned – different from the argument raised by the protesters. To add further, Section 11, Article 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution on State Policies provide that The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”
Fernandez added that “laws and religion, especially in our country, must relatively and separately stand as it is enshrined in our constitution that the state shall have no religion, and as such, must not be dictated by any religious organization.”
Fontanos believes LGBTQI Filipinos need to be more proactive in pushing for the passage of the ADB.
For instance for her, “it is time for the LGBTIQ people who work with these senators to wake up and challenge and call out Sen. Sotto, Sen. Pacquiao and Sen. Villanueva on their hypocrisy,” she said, adding that “I would especially like to appeal to people in the showbiz industry. One of you is preventing the LGBTIQ community from achieving equality and perpetuating the injustices we face in our daily lives by blocking the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate. Are you/they aware of this?”
Fontanos added that “Sen. Sotto is okay to host Super Sireyna but will look the other way when those transwomen are denied work, education and basic dignity.”
Fontanos said that, theoretically, “the LGBTIQ community should be boycotting Super Sireyna in protest. But of course, that won’t happen because many LGBTIQ folk are all too willing to cooperate in their oppression, which is unfortunate.”
Also from Mindanao, Jim Casamayor Ofonda of Diosa ng Kutabato said that “should the ADB not progress in the Senate, we’d be back to square one (in the next Congress).” And here, “we can blame these senators who claim to be for us ONLY when it serves their purpose; and then attack us when they no longer need us.”
But Ofonda said that “we also shoulder a large part of the blame – for trusting ‘allies’ who are really only there just to promote their personal interests; for putting people in positions of power, only for them to attack us when we’re no longer useful to them; for not calling these people out for putting their self-interests ahead of what’s right.”
Exactly because he is already disheartened by the non-action on the ADB in the Senate, Sabarez said that – in the case of LGBT Pilipinas – the approach is now not to focus on the national level. Instead, “it is to go to local government units (LGUs) to persuade them to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs).” Thus far, they have been finding success in promoting the human rights of LGBTQI people in such localities as the City of San Juan. “Ang atake natin ay sa ibaba habang wala pang malinaw na batas sa national level (We’re starting at the grassroots while there’s no law yet on the national level),” he said.
In a statement provided to Outrage Magazine, DAKILA stated that “we urge everyone to continue pushing for equality in the society by upholding our basic human rights. We demand that the SOGIE Equality Bill (Anti-Discrimination Bill) be passed at the senate level. We demand that the ADB be signed as law. We demand the equal protection of everyone’s rights, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.”
Bahaghari Center’s Bonette said that “we can only overcome the challenge (of ensuring that ADB is passed) through collective action. Pressure the legislators; don’t vote for those who hate us; stop supporting the haters; and hold those who deny us our rights accountable.”
3rd Iloilo LGBTQI gathering stresses that #PRIDEisProtest
Iloilo hosted its 3rd LGBTQI Pride parade, with the core message highlighting that Pride remains an act of protest.
The city of Iloilo hosted the third iteration of its Pride parade, with the core message highlighting that Pride remains an act of protest. In a way, this is contrary to the current direction many Pride-related parades are taking – including in Metro Manila – where advocacy is getting trumped by commercialization/partying.
In a statement provided to Outrage Magazine, Carlo Gabriel Evidente of the Iloilo Pride Team said that the move to focus on #PRIDEisProtest is “in recognition of the legacy of the Stonewall Riots, and the continuing gender-based violence and discrimination experienced by persons of various SOGIEs all over the world.”
Irish Granada Inoceto, vice chairperson of Iloilo Pride Team, added: “Through this (gathering we hoped to) make all colors of gender visible and celebrated. This is our way of saying we are here and we are not going anywhere.”
Over 2,000 people joined this year’s gathering, the biggest for the three-year-old annual gathering.
Iloilo has actually been making rainbow waves lately.
In June, the city of Iloilo joined the ranks of local government units (LGUs) with LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs), with the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approving its ADO mandating non-discrimination of members of minority sectors including the LGBTQI community.
Following this, in August, Iloilo Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III declared the city as “LGBT-friendly”, with plan to establish an office that will develop programs and activities for the LGBT community.
For Inoceto, “as long as Pride remains inclusive of the issues of the most marginalized, when it continues to be a platform for the courage of those who stand for LGBT rights and human rights, Pride will never grow passé.”
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ‘HUMANS OF ILOILO’; CHANNEL BIBANCO; ALJHUR ALQUIZAR III
Malabon passes anti-discrimination ordinance on the basis of SOGIE
Malabon City now has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that prohibits: discrimination in schools and the workplace, delivery of goods or services, accommodation, restaurants, movie houses and malls. It also prohibits ridiculing a person based on gender and/or sexual orientation. Penalties for discriminatory act/s include imprisonment for one month to one year, a fine of P1,000 to P5,000, or both.
Still slow national move; better local endeavors.
In the absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos, a growing number of local government units are taking the lead in ensuring that LGBTQI-related discrimination is checked. And now the city of Malabon has joined the list of LGUs with an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO).
City Ordinance 16-2018, signed on September 10 by Mayor Antolin Oreta III, declares “as a policy of Malabon City to actively work for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that offend the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights.”
Among the prohibited acts in the ADO are: discrimination in schools and the workplace, delivery of goods or services, accommodation, restaurants, movie houses and malls. It also prohibits ridiculing a person based on gender and/or sexual orientation.
Penalties for discriminatory act/s include imprisonment for one month to one year, a fine of P1,000 to P5,000, or both.
As with other ADOs, the Malabon ordinance similarly mandates the creation of the Malabon City Pride Council, tasked to monitor complaints, assist victims of stigma and discrimination, as well as recommend to the city council additional anti-discrimination policies and review all existing resolutions, ordinances and codes if these have discriminatory policies.
The same Pride council will oversee the implementation of an anti-discrimination campaign and the organization of LGBTQI groups in the barangays of the city.
The Malabon ADO also aims to include anti-discrimination programs (including psychological counseling, legal assistance, and forming of barangay-level LGBTQI organizations), with the budged to be sourced from the gender and development (GAD) plans, projects and programs (uo to 5%).
The ADO also tasks the Malabon police station to investigate cases involving violence based on SOGIE.
Also with the ADO, Malabon will now commemorate LGBTQI-related events, including the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17; Pride parade in December; World AIDS Day on December 1; and Human Rights Day on December 10.
What it’s like to be trans in Taiwan
Tamsin Wu visits gay-friendly Taiwan, where she meets Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), who said that the country is still failing its LGBTQ citizens, and particularly lags in promoting trans rights.
Taiwan may be the most gay-friendly country in Asia, but according to Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), the country still receives a “failing mark” when it comes to LGBTQ equality. Transgender people, in particular, usually bear the brunt of sex-based discrimination.
ISTSCare has a one-woman 24/7 hotline service. Abby has dealt with calls concerning struggles related to suicide attempts, job insecurity or homelessness, and even domestic violence. To provide support and assistance to hotline callers, ISTSCare also partners with NGOs and other LGBTQ-related organizations.
Aside from the hotline service, the organization does its advocacy work through protests, by maintaining an online presence, as well as directly communicating with political figures and trans-friendly journalists to rouse awareness and discussion on transgender and intersex issues.
In 2014, four years after the first official notice regarding gender reassignment procedures in Taiwan was issued, the Ministry of Interior (MOI), with the support of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), announced the easement of legal requirements on changing gender identity. MOI promised that it would immediately work on letting transgender citizens change their gender marker without having to go through rigorous psychiatric assessments, sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and parental approval. However, MOI backtracked since then.
“MOI, which is handling the national ID cards, they said there are still a lot of research to do about the gender issue and they try to get some professional opinions, but MOHW already said this is not a medical issue, it’s an internal affair issue. So MOI, they’re just under the pressure and paused a lot of meetings… and now the issue is still under research for four years,” Abby lamented. “We’re the first Asian country to pass the bill but it’s not implemented.”
Despite MOHW already stating that medical professionals should not have a say when it comes to determining one’s gender identification, transgender citizens are still presently forced to consider SRS. Besides that, they are also required to seek the expensive involvement of psychiatrists and, outrageously, the consent of their parents. Otherwise, their gender identity cannot be legally recognized.
Abby clarified that not all transgender people want the help of doctors to validate their gender identity. Hence, SRS is especially discriminatory towards transgender citizens who do not wish to undergo surgery. “What is gender? Is it just based on our anatomy? Or is it in our behavior? In our mind? Or in the way we dress?… There are a lot of factors that influence what gender one identify as, but society focus on the least publicly visible aspect – our sex organ.”
Abby continued, “There are risks to surgery and that is one of the reasons why not all transgenders want to go through it. And also, they may question themselves, ‘Do I really want to have surgery or is it just for the sake of getting this ID?’”
“One day before the presidential election, I went to the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) headquarters to talk with the Department of Woman. I told them, ‘tomorrow is already the day for voting, are you going on stage and advocate for transgender rights? This has been neglected for the past 3-4 years. Then they just told me, ‘this requires social consensus’… I went out of that meeting deeply upset,” Abby shared.
With lack of funding, community support and societal understanding of trans issues, how could transgender rights obtain social consensus when this feat requires acceptance and approval from the status quo in order for the relevant social change to take effect? Why should the rights and well-being of a minority group fall in the hands of the majority? Currently, both the public and the government possess inadequate knowledge in dealing with transgender issues, which exacerbates the struggles transgender citizens face.
Prejudice against transgender folks can also be felt within LGBTQ communities. On one hand, some non-transgender members of the LGBTQ community question the gender identity of trans people. On the other hand, there is also internalized transphobia.
“A lot of transgender are more binary [in the way they see gender]. They think a man should act and look a certain way and that a woman should act and look a certain way… ISTSCare does not condone this kind of thinking,” Abby said.
When asked why ISTSCare is run by only three people (including Abby and her partner), she shared that many transgender citizens in Taiwan find it difficult to prioritize doing advocacy work because their life situation is oftentimes mentally and emotionally taxing. On top of having to deal with an unsupportive family, they often face discrimination in the job market. Hence, there’s a high level of difficulty for them to get a good job, gain professional working experience and make a decent living, let alone have the financial resources to go through SRS. As of now, they’re in this loop of societal discrimination and economic vulnerability with no recourse.
Another reason for the lack of transgender-focused activists in Taiwan is attributed to the problem of privilege. Abby adds that well-off transgender citizens tend to be exclusive in their social group. Post-surgery and after assimilating in heteronormative society, they also tend to ignore the struggles faced by less fortunate transgender citizens. They would rather not get associated for fear of being found out and face discrimination. Albeit joining Pride Parades, they are at other times nowhere to be found when it comes to advocating for transgender rights.
Abby said that ISTSCare’s main goal right now is to push for a non-discriminatory, comprehensive gender identity law in Taiwan.
“We hope to be like Argentina. Just file [required] papers to the courthouse and they will assign the legal gender change. No need to go through any kind of medical process.”
Having a well thought out gender identity law may not help solve all transgender issues and alleviate them from all of their struggles. However, getting the said law done and implemented right would be one significant progress for the recognition of the human rights and dignity of, not only transgender citizens, but also intersex and non-binary people.
Chance of HIV-positive person with undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sex partner is scientifically zero
The PARTNER 2 study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.
Confirmed and needs to be stressed: The chance of any HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sexual partner is scientifically equivalent to zero.
This is according to researchers who released at #AIDS2018 the final results from the PARTNER study. Results originally announced in 2014 from the first phase, PARTNER 1, already indicated that “Undetectable equals Untransmittable” (U=U). But while the first study was lauded in tackling vaginal sex, the statistical certainty of the result did not convince everyone, particularly in the case of gay men, or those who engage in anal sex.
But now, PARTNER 2, the second phase, only recruited gay couples. The PARTNER study recruited HIV serodifferent couples (one partner positive, one negative) at 75 clinical sites in 14 European countries. They tested the HIV-negative partners every six to 12 months for HIV, and tested viral load in the HIV-positive partners. Both partners also completed behavioral surveys. In cases of HIV infection in the negative partners, their HIV was genetically analyzed to see if it came from their regular partner.
And the results indicate “a precise rate of within-couple transmission of zero” for gay men as well as for heterosexuals.
The study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.
PARTNER is not the only study about viral load and infectiousness. Last year, the Opposites Attract study also found no transmissions in nearly 17,000 acts of condomless anal sex between serodifferent gay male partners. This means that no transmission has been seen in about 126,000 occasions of sex, if this study is combined with PARTNER 1 and 2.
While this is good news overall in the fight against HIV, related issues continue to plague HIV-related efforts, particularly in countries like the Philippines.
For instance, aside from the overall silence on U=U (undetectable = untransmittable), use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) continue to be low. As of May 2016, when the country already had 34,158 total reported cases of HIV infection, Filipinos living with HIV who are on anti-retroviral therapy (i.e. those who are taking meds) only numbered 14,356.
The antiretroviral medicines in use in the Philippines also continue to be limited, with some already phased out in developed countries.
All the same, this is considered a significant stride, with science unequivocally backing the scientific view helmed in 2008 by Dr. Pietro Vernazza who spearheaded the scientific view that viral suppression means HIV cannot be passed via a statement in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine.
‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’
A Christian church wants members of the LGBTQIA community to know that “they are loved by God.” Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, says that “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”
God’s love is for all.
“(We want the members of the LGBTQIA community to know that) they are loved by God,” said Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, which has been making its presence known particularly in LGBTQIA Pride events to highlight its Christian anti-anti-LGBTQIA position.
Approximately 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and the church’s teachings continue to dominate public life in the Philippines. As it stands, church’s teachings re LGBTQIA people still often revolve around the “hate the sin, love the sinner” statement, so that LGBTQIA people are tolerated so long as they do not express their being LGBTQIA.
This “hate the sin, love the sinner” stance seems to be reflected in dominant perspectives re LGBTQIA people in the Philippines.
In 2013, for instance, in a survey titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality” conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center, 73% of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society”. The percentage of Filipinos who said society should not accept gays fell from 33% in 2002 to 26% that year.
But more recently, in June 2018, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that a big percentage of Filipinos still oppose civil unions. When 1,200 respondents across the country were asked whether or not they agree with the statement “there should be a law that will allow the civil union of two men or two women”, at least 61% of the respondents said they would oppose a bill that would legalize this in the country. Among them, 44% said they strongly disagree, while 17% said they somewhat disagree. Meanwhile, 22% said they would support it, while 16% said they were still “undecided”.
For Paminiano, “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”
Churches continue to be lambasted for not changing with time – perhaps most obvious in the treatment of LGBT people of those with faith. But the number of denominations openly discussing – and even coming up with statements of support of – LGBTQIA issues is increasing.
All hail the beauty queen
A glimpse into the life of a trans woman beauty pageant enthusiast, Ms Mandy Madrigal of Transpinay of Antipolo Organization.
This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, 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 LGBT 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.”
“I feel accepted.”
That, said Mandy Madrigal, is the main appeal of joining beauty pageants.
“I feel so loved when I join pageants. Especially when people clap for us, cheer for us. And when you win… it (just) feels different.”
Assigned male at birth, Mandy was in primary school when her father asked her if “I was a boy or a girl”. That question scared her, she admitted, because – as the only boy among six kids – she thought she did not really have “any choice”. “So I answered my father, ‘I am a boy’.”
But Mandy’s father asked her the same question again; and this time, “I said, yes, I am gay.”
No, Mandy is NOT gay; she is a transpinay, and a straight one at that. But the misconceptions about the binary remains – i.e. in this case, she is associated with being gay mainly because she did not identify with the sex assigned her at birth.
In a way, Mandy said she’s lucky because “I believe he (my father) accepted (me) with his whole heart.”
The rest of her family did, too.
Though – speaking realistically – Mandy said this may be abetted by her “contributions” to the family. “Hindi naman aka basta naging bakla lang (I’m not a ’typical’ gay person),” she said, “na naglalandi lang o sumasali lang ng pageant (who just flirts, or just joins beauty pageants). Instead, Mandy provides financial support to her family by – among others – selling RTW clothes and beauty products. In fact, some of her winnings also go to the family’s coffers. By helping provide them with what they need, “it’s easy for them to accept me as a transgender woman.”
Growing up, Mandy realized that while “makakapagsinungaling ka sa ibang tao, pero sarili mo, hindi mo maloloko. Kaya mas magandang tanggapin mo ang sarili mo para matanggap ka ng ibang tao (you may be able to lie to others about who you really are, but you can’t lie to yourself. So it’s better to accept your true self so that others will be able to accept you too).”
Mandy was “introduced” to beauty pageants when she was 13 or 14. At that time, a friend asked her to join a pageant; and “I won first runner up.” She never looked backed since, even – at one time – earning as much as P20,000 after winning a title. Like many regular beauconeras (beauty pageant participants), she also heads to distant provinces to compete, largely because – according to her – prizes in provincial competitions tend to be higher. The prize money earned helps one buy more paraphernalia for the next pageants, and – in Mandy’s case – also helps support her family.
FORMING A FAMILY
Beauty pageants are competitions, yes; but for Mandy, pageants also allow the candidates to form bonds as they get close to each other. Pageants, she said, can be a way “na maging close kami, magkaroon ng magagandang bonding… at magkakilala kami (for us to be close, to bond and get to know the others better).”
Pageants can be costly, Mandy admitted – for instance, “you have to invest,” she said, adding that a candidate needs to be able to provide for herself (instead of just always renting) costumes, swimsuits, casual wear, gowns, and so on.
In a way, therefore, having people who believe in you helps. In Mandy’s case, for instance, a lot of people helped (by providing necessities she needs) because “naniniwala sila na I am a queen inside and out,” she smiled.
But this support can also rack the nerves, particularly when people expect one to win (particularly because of the support given).
One will not always win, of course; and this doesn’t always give one good feelings. In 2017, for instance, Mandy joined Queen of Antipolo, and – after failing to win a crown – she said many people told her she should have won the title, or at least placed among the runners-up. “naguluhan ang utak ko (That confused me),” she said. “‘Bakit ako ang gusto ninyong manalo?’ But that’s when I realized na marami ako na-i-inspire na tao dahil marami nagtitiwala sa akin (I ask, ‘Why do you want me to win?’ But that’s when I realized that I inspire a lot of people, which is why they count on me).”
This gives her confidence; enough to deal with the nervousness that will also allow her to just enjoy any pageant she joins.
A TIME TO SHINE
Mandy believes pageants can help LGBTQI people by providing them a platform to showcase to non-LGBTQI people why “hindi tayo dapat husgahan (we should not be judged).”
Generally speaking, Mandy said that “ang tunay na queen ay may malaking puso (a real queen has a big heart).”
And she knows that not every pageant is good for every contestant. There will be pageants where you will be crowned the queen, she said, just as there will be pageants where you will lose. But over and above the winning and losing, note “what’s most important: that there’s a lot of people who supported you in a (certain) pageant.”
At the end of the day, “sa lahat ng patimpalak, pagkatandaan natin na merong nananalo at may natatalo. Depende na lang yan sa araw mo. Kung ikaw ay nakatadhanang manalo ay mananalo ka; kung nakatadhanang matalo ay matatalo ka talaga. Yun lang yun. Isipin mo na lang na meron pang araw na darating na mas maganda para sa iyo (in all competitions, remember that there will always be a winner and a loser. It all depends on your luck for the day. If you are fated to win, you will win; if you are fated to lose, you will lose. That’s that. But still remember – even when you lose – that there will always come a day that will be great for you).”
Bullying ‘follows’ LGB people from school to work
13 countries from APAC plan scale-up of PrEP and HIV self-testing; challenges remain
Study links individual HPV types to HIV infection
‘Sextortion’ labeled as most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children
Avon signs up to UN’s LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business
Sexual minority women less likely to receive appropriate sexual, reproductive health support
3 Things to remember when meeting your partner’s parents
Many single men may not have developed necessary social skills to find a partner
Conversion ‘therapy’ begins at home
Moments when hashtag activism really worked
3rd Iloilo LGBTQI gathering stresses that #PRIDEisProtest
Malabon passes anti-discrimination ordinance on the basis of SOGIE
Emma Watson highlights LGBTQI support, wears ‘trans rights are human rights’ t-shirt
‘Life for a poz is an ongoing struggle. Face it.’ – @pozzieblue
5 Relationship red flags you shouldn’t ignore
Two men linked to LGBT Facebook page arrested in Indonesia
Family acceptance of LGBT identity linked to lower stress
Law granting rights to trans people passed in Uruguay
Only 17% of Phl companies have anti-discrimination policies in place, according to study
Art to push the curious to explore
To live a life in service
#KaraniwangLGBT: My life as a beautician
Looking for the southern rainbow charm
Four impressive facts I learned from #EuroPride2018 in Stockholm
6 Ways Filipino Protestants are breaking the taboo on sexuality
San Francisco’s Castro District highlights Pride is still a long way away…
‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’
LGBTQI people experience layers of discrimination, says Bahaghari Metro Manila’s Neri
Marikina City Mayor Teodoro supports dev’t of local anti-discrimination ordinance
All hail the beauty queen
POZ2 weeks ago
‘Life for a poz is an ongoing struggle. Face it.’ – @pozzieblue
NEWSMAKERS2 weeks ago
Only 17% of Phl companies have anti-discrimination policies in place, according to study
Health & Wellness2 weeks ago
Attitudes toward sexual minorities, HIV-positive people among physicians are changing
LIFESTYLE & CULTURE2 weeks ago
Gay/straight alliance Warwick Rowers marks 10th year; still devoted to LGBTQI-related issues