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Trans awakening in Zamboanga City

Meet young #transgender woman Shentara Lopez who – while experiencing #discrimination in #Mampang, #ZamboangaCity, found support from a local #LGBTQIA organization.

This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, 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 LGBTQIA 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.”

Shentara Lopez, 20, was eight (in 2004) when – at first – she identied as gay while watching a TV show called “Encantadia”.

“At that time I had a hard time because I was hiding myself. I knew then my parents won’t accept me easily. I came from a macho family. My grandfather was an athlete, a softball player for the Philippines; and my father was the same, a national softball player,” said the eldest of three kids.

Because she was effeminate, “in the past, my father used to make me carry a heavy load. He really wanted for me to be masculine.”

Fortuntaley, though, even if “it was not easy for them to accept me, but eventually, they learned to accept who I really am,” Shentara said, adding that those bad things don’t “happen anymore” as she is now allowed to “be who I want to be.”

Because she was effeminate, “in the past, my father used to make me carry a heavy load. He really wanted for me to be masculine.”

HARDSHIPS OUTSIDE HOME

The hardships weren’t limited to home.

Shentara is in her first year in college now (“I’m taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education – Major in English”), but “I experienced discrimination in school. The last time I was to enroll, I was not allowed, and was told I need to cut my hair. That was discriminatory… I am no longer used to not having my long hair. For me, my hair gives me power and confidence.”

Interestingly, Shentara wants transgender women to “set limits. We should show we’re respectable so that people respect us.”

“The last time I was to enroll, I was not allowed, and was told I need to cut my hair. That was discriminatory… I am no longer used to not having my long hair. For me, my hair gives me power and confidence.”

ON TRANSITIONING

Shentara started transitioning at 18, with her support mainly coming from other trans women, and not medical practitioners. A community leader, in fact, was the first to give her hormones.

She buys her own supplies now, but like many trans people, she still self-medicates.

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“Perhaps it isn’t hard to find someone who’ll love you here in Mampang. When you love yourself, the right person for you will love you back.”

ON LOVE

“I don’t have a partner now, but I am inspired; someone makes me happy,” she said. “Perhaps it isn’t hard to find someone who’ll love you here in Mampang. When you love yourself, the right person for you will love you back.”

CREATING FAMILY

Shentara is a meber of La Bella Maricona de Mampang.

“This is a big help because I became a part of a progressive and united organization here in Zamboanga City. La Bella will guide you. La Bella won’t leave you. If, along the way you’d have problems, La Bella will be there,” she said, stressing why – for her – LGBTQIA organizations are important.

“As trans women, we should show our community that we should be accepted and loved. As a trans woman, I know we’re valuable in this world,” she said.

COME OUT… WITH LIMITS

As a young trans woman, a big issue for Shentara is the community still not fully accepting LGBTQIA people. “As trans women, we should show our community that we should be accepted and loved. As a trans woman, I know we’re valuable in this world,” she said.

And while she wants younger trans women to “come out, be proud”, she also stresses respecting so-called limits. “We should know our limits in society. And we should know our roles in the community for us to be respected. We see many trans women wander at night. We should avoid doing this; this is the first limit we should have. People won’t respect us if they see us at night, yelling and calling for attention and making noise. This is one of the reasons why our community won’t accept us.”

All the same: “To young trans women, study well. Be respectable people. Develop self-respect. No one will respect us unless we respect ourselves.

And to the community in general, “accept and love trans people. Not just trans people, but members of the LGBTQIA community. I believe that this community has value in this world we move in,” Shentara ended.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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