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Trans woman files complaint in QC for discrimination in the workplace

Mara La Torre, a transgender woman working at a call center company in Quezon City, filed a complaint at the QC Office of the Prosecutor because of the violation of QC Ordinance SP 1309, S-2003, which prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

Mara La Torre, a transgender woman working at a call center company in Quezon City (QC), has filed with the QC Office of the Prosecutor a criminal complaint against two security guards for prohibiting her to use the company’s female restroom.  This violates QC Ordinance SP 1309, S-2003, which prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

Section 1 of Quezon City Ordinance SP 1309, S-2009 prohibits “all discriminatory acts committed against homosexuals in the matter of hiring, treatment,… in any office in Quezon City, whether in the government or private sector, are hereby declared as unlawful.”

In her complaint, Mara stated that as a transgender woman, “ina-identify ko ang aking sarili bilang isang babae. At ang pagpapalabas sa akin ng gwardiya kung saan ang utos niya ay may awtoridad, ay nakaka-degrade ng aking gender identity. At dahil sa mismong ginawa nyang aksyon, hindi na muli akong nag-CR sa female restroom sa takot na ma-degrade muli ang aking gender identity at sa posibleng iskandalong idulot nito.

According to Mara, she also already lessened her water intake to avoid using the restroom; this inadvertently affected her health “dahil madalas matuyo ang lalamunan ko at madalas akong mauhaw. Dahil na rin dito, naaapektuhan ang mismong performance ko sa trabaho dahil bilang call center agent na nakikipag-usap ng walong oras sa telepono, kailangang walong baso at least ang water intake ko upang maging efficient ang pasasalita ko. Sa kabila ng pagsisikap kong ito, minsa’y nangangailangan pa rin akong gumamit ng female restroom. Pero dahil nga sa kadahilanang nabanggit ko, nagpipigil na lang ako ng pag-ihi na naging dahilan ng pagsakit ng bandang kanang tagiliran ng aking tiyan.”

Mara alleged that she is also not allowed to use the female sleeping quarter.

Nahirapan ako dahil kinakailangan kong gumamit nito upang matulog sapagkat may mga pagkakataon na limang oras bago ang shift ko nasa opisina na ako dahil gabi ang schedule ko at wala ng masasakyan sa panahong iyong. Sa kabuuan, naging hostile environment ang pinagtratrabahuan ko.”

The disrespect that Mara encountered with regards to her gender identity triggered her “gender dysphoria o gender depression na karaniwan ng nararamdaman ng isang transgender. Dahil sa hindi resonableng pag-trigger sa aking depresyon, hindi ko maiwasan makaramdam ng sobrang pagkalumo na syang kadahilanan ng maraming sleepless nights, na siya namang naging dahilan ng pagbaba ng performance ko sa aking trabaho.”

Mara stressed that “I am filing this complaint not just for myself but also in behalf of all transgender women and men who have suffered discrimination in the past. This is our fight.”

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According to Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, a human rights lawyer and executive director of EnGendeRights, the Quezon City Ordinance was the first ordinance passed in the Philippines protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people against discrimination in the workplace, and Mara is now seeking justice through this ordinance. “All employers and employees in Quezon City should know about this ordinance to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Mara is very courageous in standing up for her rights. She needs our support.”

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