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The myth of the ‘bastusing bakla’

Even some of the members of the LGBT community claim that some ‘bakla’ get discriminated against because they do not look like they deserve to be respected. But Michael David C. Tan argues that ‘walang bastusing bakla’; instead, the way of seeing has to change because in such instances, the victim is being blamed and the erroneous treatment just continues to exist.

‘Yung ibang bakla kasi, nananadya kaya binabastos (some gay men, they deserve the taunting they get),” one transpinay told me, adding that this is why she, herself, chooses not to “dress too sexily – kasi kung ganoon, para ko na rin kasing hinihingi na kutyain ako (if I dress that way, it’s like I’m asking to be taunted/mocked).”

This same transpinay – and basically her entire circle of friends, who are, interestingly, all peer counselors in Quezon City – believes that “bakla ka na nga, maging kagalang-galang ka naman. Ibukod ang mga bastusing bakla (you’re already gay, at least be respectable. Segregate those who deserve mockery).”

And so there’s that segregation of the “bastusing bakla” versus the “kagalang-galang na bakla” – that is, the disrespectable gays, or those who “deserve” to be mocked versus the supposedly respectable gays.

Let us get this out of the way: WALA PONG BASTUSING BAKLA (there are no disrespectable gays).

I still often encounter this statement (and sentiment): “Eh bakit kasi ganyan sila manamit (Then why do they dress that way)?”
By “dressing that way”, what is usually meant is the dressing up of transwomen as… women. Occasionally, it also refers to the way a “butch” lesbian dresses up.
Know that they “dress that way” because (kaya ganyan ang kanilang pananamit ay dahil):

  1. Gusto nila. Put simply, what they are wearing is what they like, and this should be respected. I don’t disrespect those who wear socks with their rubber sandals, or those who put on violet-colored pants paired with yellow shirts (complete with green belts), or politicians who wear only sandos/singlets under their Barong Tagalog (so that their hairy armpits become centerpoints)… These may look – in my eyes – unsightly, but it’s what these people involved want to wear, so be it…
  2. Sila po ay babae. Nag-aayos sila ng naaayon sa kanilang pagkilala sa kanilang sarili (self-identity). Transwomen dress as women (or following the socially constructed norms of the “right” way for women to dress up) because they are women; hindi po sila baklaAng mga transmen naman ay nagbibihis lalaki dahil lalaki po sila; hindi po sila lesbiyana.
  3. ‘Yan lang afford nila. For some, what they wear is decided not by what they want to put on, but what they have in their closets (if they even have closets). Don’t tell me that now we should blame their impoverished state for the disrespect they get, too (!)…

Kung may babaeng ginahasa (when a woman is raped), among the statements we hear include:
“Ang sexy kasi ng suot, kaya ayan!”
“Gabi na kasi, pa-gala-gala pa sa kalye.”
“Sumama kasi sa hindi kilala, malandi!”

These statements actually blame the raped woman, the victim.
Ang ganitong pananaw ay nagpapa-walang-sala sa mga kriminal (the rapists) dahil ang sinisisi nito ay ang biktima.
Dahil ang totoo, hindi dahil sexy ang suot mo, puwede ka nang gahasain.
Hindi dahil gabi na at nasa kalye ka pa, puwede ka nang gahasain (otherwise, mas maraming lalaki ang ginagahasa).
At hindi dahil sumama ka sa hindi mo kilala ay malandi ka na; o dahil malandi ka ay puwede ka na ring gahasain.
Rape is rape, period. Ito ay isang krimen.

Maihahalintulad dito ang pambabastos na nararanasan ng mga bakla, lesbiyana at transgenders.
Hindi dahil hindi ka sang-ayon sa kanilang suot, gawain, et cetera ay maaari mo na silang bastusin.
Huwag sila ang sisihin mo sa diskriminasyong kanilang nararanasan.
Biktima sila.
Sisihin mo ang namimiktima.

The continuing discrimination against women is apparent in this way of looking at what’s respectable or not. Mainly, when one who was biologically born male crosses the gender binary, that person is assumed to be already “disrespectable”. Do we “hate” women so much that wanting to be one is not worth of respect?

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One of my aunties – whenever she’d see a transwoman – would tell me: “Okay lang maging bakla ka. Basta ganyan ka lang; huwag kang maging bastusin (It’s okay for you to be gay. As long as you stay ‘straight-acting/looking’; don’t become a disrespectable gay guy).”
This is from an auntie whose husband I know for a fact has other women/is an adulterer. And yet, when I visit them, I am forced to make mano (pay my respects) to him…
The point, though, is whether I stay respectful of him or not is up to me.

The transpinay asked me if I mean to tell her it’s the society that’s wrong on this.
I said yes, definitely.
Because – yet again – wala pong bastusing bakla.
May mga taong bastos (There are rude/disrespectful people).
At ito po ang dapat ituwid (these are who, and what, we need to change).

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