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Trans emergence in Barangay Mampang, Zamboanga City

Meet #transgender community leader Victoria Lopez from Mampang in #ZamboangaCity, who believes #LGBTQIA communities can inspire particularly the young to dream big… and do better in their lives.

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.”

Victoria Lopez, 36, was still young (in elementary school) when she noticed something different in her. “Actually it was kind of confusing for me in my elementary days. In Grade 5, I was attracted to a male classmate, a transferee. I was questioning myself why I had that emotion. That was even if there were girls who approached me. I couldn’t reciprocate their emotions. I was really attracted to heterosexual men,” she recalled.

The fourth of six kids, Victoria said that her family was also challenged when she came out as transgender. “It was kinda difficult for them at first. There was an impression that our family, our clan was masculine. I think I was the first to come out as a transgender woman. But for them, since I was able to complete my studies, they accepted me at the end of the day.”

Though she is a licensed nurse, Victoria now works in the real estate industry.

“I think I was the first to come out as a transgender woman. But for them, since I was able to complete my studies, they accepted me at the end of the day.”

CONSERVATIVE COMMUNITY

Her barangay, Mampang, is located in the city of Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) in southern Philippines. Situated some six kilometers from City Hall, it is well-populated by Islamic people.

Victoria admitted that “here in our barangay, it was kind of difficult (to be transgender in the past). But people are now open to transgender people so it’s no longer difficult.”

“A straight man will accept a trans woman if you act as a woman. They are straight, and so even if you’re transgender, you should still be feminine enough for them.”

FINDING LOVE

Victoria is now with a live-in partner for more than four years now. And with finding love as a transgender woman in Mampang, Zamboanga Xity, “we have to show that we deserve to be loved by men. Finding love still depends on how LGBTQIA people present themselves. A straight man will accept a trans woman if you act as a woman. They are straight, and so even if you’re transgender, you should still be feminine enough for them.”

There’s still work to be done to better the lives of LGBTQIA people in Mampang, said Victoria.

“A transgender-specific issue here that should be prioritized is the use of hormonal therapy.

CONFRONTING ISSUES

“A transgender-specific issue here that should be prioritized is the use of hormonal therapy. Many trans women here do not have knowledge what to drink, what to take. Sometimes they overdose. At times they take or receive the wrong injections. These are no longer effective to the body.”

At times, though, the issues come from within the LGBTQIA community, and the trans community in particular.

“Some trans people have attitude problems. We compete with each other, like if you’re a trans woman, you’re supposed to be beautiful and soft. Some think that trans women should be feminine. If you’re more masculine when moving or dressing up, then you’re low-class. We should be able to teach them that your clothes don’t matter. Instead, we focus on how you see yourself as; we stick to that,” Victoria said.

“Some trans people have attitude problems. We compete with each other, like if you’re a trans woman, you’re supposed to be beautiful and soft. Some think that trans women should be feminine.”

CREATING A FAMILY

During the pandemic, Victoria actually helped establish a local LGBTQIA organization, the La Bella Maricona de Mampang; she is now its chairperson emeritus.

“We were established during the pandemic, when we saw the need to serve people,” she recalled. “We wanted to show we’re not only good in parlors. We stepped up to show the community that we can do better, we can be more.”

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The organization has been holding HIV-related efforts, medical missions, et cetera… and not just for the LGBTQIA community in Mampang, but the general population, too, as Victoria said they hope to “show we’re all and the same anyway.”

For Victoria, “an organization is like a family. In organizations, we see people who can inspire us. Some LGBTQIA people may think it’s good if they just stay home, help out in doing chores. There’s more to life. We can make them see the possibilities they can do in their lives by making them see people who are successful in their fields.”

“Be equipped with knowledge. And learn to adapt to the community. This way we get respected by others. Because respect will always start with us.”

WORDS OF WISDOM

To younger LGBTQIA people, “I just want (them) to act properly. Dream big while still young. Prioritize education because that will be your shield. They cannot take that away from you. Be equipped with knowledge. And learn to adapt to the community. This way we get respected by others. Because respect will always start with us,” Victoria said.

And to families still not accepting LGBTQIA children, “don’t make it difficult for them. We did not ask for this to happen. It happened unintentionally; we just felt it. For them not to limit themselves in their efforts to achieve more, accept them, embrace them. Because you don’t know, they’ll be the people who’ll help you in the future,” Victoria 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. 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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