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TAO: Friends in advocacy

How the Transpinay of Antipolo Organization (TAO) is hoping to challenge perspectives by convincing communities about equal rights for transpinays.

In 2006, five transpinays, Kristine Madrigal, Alexis Garcia, Em Bayubay, Jersey Paceno and Shane Marie Madrigal (who called themselves diwatas or enchantresses), formed the Transpinay of Antipolo Organization (TAO) to “provide a voice for transpinays (transgenders and transsexuals).”

In 2006, five transpinays – Kristine Madrigal, Alexis Garcia, Em Bayubay, Jersey Paceno and Shane Marie Madrigal (who called themselves diwatas or enchantresses) – noted the growing number (“by the hundreds”) of those who participated in their annual Christmas gatherings. And so it was that “we decided to formalize the formation of a transgender organization”, says Shane Marie Madrigal, the group’s head, with the realization that the gathering can “provide a voice for transpinays (transgenders and transsexuals).”

And so the Transpinay of Antipolo Organization (TAO) came into being.

In actuality, “there is actually no big difference between TAO and other LGBT groups. We (all have) one goal, which is (to push for) gender equality,” Madrigal says. But what may set TAO apart is “that this is started from a bond of friendship, and then formed into a more precise, legal and organized group.”

As with other groups still starting to establish themselves, there are numerous challenges to face. Primary, says Madrigal, is the group’s funding, what with the five pioneering members of the group actually “using our own personal money to sustain the group.” But TAO is already eyeing solutions, including fundraising to support the organization’s intended future projects.

And then there’s the challenge to “convince the community to believe in our advocacy”. TAO is conducting seminars and symposia among its members “so that they themselves can disseminate the information regarding TAO in their own communities.”

Thus far, the group has also held a garage sale, with the proceeds going to their Adopt a daycare feeding program (October 18, 2012); and partnered with the SM City Antipolo Bingo Junction for a fundraising activity (November 20, 2012).

“We look forward to our future projects, (and that they) will turn into success, which will be the start of our achievements,” says Madrigal, who is proud nonetheless that “forming a TAO is already an achievement.”

TAO is open to all transgenders (and not just those in Antipolo), though it is also open to “all persons regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity or religious affiliations,” Madrigal says, adding that “as long as they believe in the TAO advocacy and are willing to support the organization.”

As TAO continues working for the stability of the group, Madrigal notes that “many people may criticize our organization, (doubting whether) it will last or not. But this only gives us motivation (to strengthen TAO), as we eye for it to be our legacy for the next generation.”

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For more information TAO, email or visit TAO’s Facebook account.

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"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.


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