Mandy was on her way to a graveyard shift when – right after leaving home – someone grabbed her from behind, and then started pulling her bag from her, all the while waving an ice pick in front of her. Though feeling shocked and afraid at the same time, Mandy fought back, punching the robber and hitting him with her umbrella.
Mandy said she knew that when robbed, giving in may seem rational, so as not to put oneself in danger. But in her case at that time, “my initial reaction was to fight back,” Mandy said. “I couldn’t let anyone hurt me.”
Failing to take anything from her, the robber escaped, and “walang nakuha sa akin ang holdaper kasi nanlaban ako, at tumakbo na lang (he didn’t get anything from me because I fought back, he just ran away).”
Feeling somewhat relieved when the robber fleed, Mandy rode a jeepney to report to work. She was – at that point – more worried being late for work. While traveling, “I just noticed that I was breathless; I just ignored it, assuming that it was due to the fight since I exerted strength struggling against the robber.”
When Mandy reached her workplace, a friend – after expressing shock – told Mandy that she was bleeding badly. That was when Mandy looked at her bloodied chest; that was when she started feeling the pain.
“I was immediately taken to a hospital,” Mandy recalled.
There, Mandy’s blood pressure went down to 60/40, and when the attending physician measured the depth of the wound, it was found to be an inch. Fortunately, “I am blessed that it didn’t reach to any of my internal organs – heart and lungs.”
The wounds have healed, though there are now two scars on Mandy’s chest. Scars that, she said, “will always remind me that once in my life, I survived from almost dying.”
In hindsight, Mandy said that she may have been profiled before the attempted robbery.
As a transwoman, “maybe he thought I’m weak,” she said, believing that many may associate being a transwoman with being weak.
And so for Mandy, that day may have been the time when she almost died for being trans.
When Mandy, who is now 31 years old, was growing up in Olongapo City, she used to think she’s “abnormal”.
“Akala ko nung una ay abnormal ako (I thought at first that I’m abnormal),” she said. “Lalaki ako pero nagkakagusto ako sa lalaki. At pakiramdam ko babae ako (I was assigned male at birth but I am attracted to men. I also identified as a woman).”
In high school, she started feeling confused, and had depression.
When she entered college and took up Bachelor of Science in Psychology, she was able to understand the concept of “abnormality”. It helped her understand that being LGBT does not make one “odd.”
That was when Mandy started accepting herself and embracing herself as a woman.
“Then, I started to take hormonal pills and wore dresses,” Mandy said.
Mandy is now the only woman in her family, the rest of her siblings are boys.
Fortunately, Mandy is accepted by her family.
“The acceptance of my family is truly amazing. My parents longed for a daughter, so it was easy for me to come out. In fact, my brothers are very protective of me because I am their only female sibling. I am very fortunate to have them,” Mandy said.
As a transwoman, though, Mandy is aware that for as long as society looks down on LGBT people, there will always be challenges. The death of Jennifer Laude in the hands of US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton, for one, is a reminder of “how we can be harmed because of who we are,” Mandy said. “I am undeniably… afraid that anyone can just kill us because of our gender; this is very unfair.”
Mandy believes in finding strength.
Beacuse of what she experienced in the hands of the robber, for instance, “I became stronger and braver to fight and protect myself.”
But for Mandy, there is also a need to find strength in number.
“All I can say to all LGBT people is for us to support each other because no one will listen and understand us except people like us,” Mandy ended.