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Valkyrie cited for alleged transphobia

A number of transgender women allege being denied access to a bar in Taguig City because they are said to be “cross dressing”. According to Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas, this “demonstrates how widespread the discrimination that transgender Filipinos face not only in getting access to public accommodations such as restaurants, gyms, malls, trains, et cetera, but also to education, employment, and social services including healthcare.” A dialogue is now being sought with the management of the bar for it to revisit its anti-trans policies.

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SCREEN CAPTURE OF VEEJAY FLORESCA'S TUMBLR ACCOUNT

SCREEN CAPTURE (FROM VEEJAY FLORESCA’S INSTRAGRAM ACCOUNT) SHOWING THE FASHION DESIGNER PHOTOGRAPHED BESIDE AN IMAGE OF HER CREATION.

Even as the LGBT community all over the world marks June as the Pride month in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots that is considered to have helped ignite the modern LGBT movement, transgender woman fashion designer Veejay Floresca alleged that on June 13, she was almost refused entry by high-end bar Valkyrie in Taguig City.

Veejay Floresca

Interviewed by Outrage Magazine, Floresca stated that even if she was on the guest list, “the bouncer (still) refused to let me in. He said that they don’t allow crossdressers (inside the venue),” said Floresca, who stressed that when she went to the venue, “I wore a very decent dress; nothing vulgar.”

According to Floresca, she was eventually allowed to enter the venue, though only after she showed the bouncers her California State I.D., where her gender marker identifies her as “female”.

Floresca was, by the way, earlier warned about the alleged practice of barring transgender women of Valkyrie. When her sister mentioned “one of the newest and hottest clubs in the city”, she warned Floresca that she “witnessed many times (when) transgender women weren’t able to get in (the venue).” Floresca was, therefore, asked to get in touch with her friends from high places (e.g. owners of Valkyrie, or at least those who know the owners of the bar) for her name to be included in the guest list.

“I feel sad,” Floresca said. “In my three years of living in the US, this never happened to me.”

NOT THE FIRST

Floresca is actually not the first to raise this issue.

Earlier, Miss Gay Manila 2015 Trixie Maristela also alleged that she was denied entry into the venue after being told to dress up like a man or get a VIP table.

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Interestingly, according to Maristela, she had been frequenting Valkyrie, and her earlier visits were not problematic, highlighting a seeming inconsistent implementation of dress code policies.

Trixie Maristela

Even earlier, In February, one Mico Lloren alleged that his transgender friend was also denied access to Valkyrie. In a Facebook post, Lloren stated that a bouncer wanted his transgender friend to “wear pants since her ID is showing ‘male’.”

Mico Lloren

Lloren’s party actually had a table reserved for them, highlighting inconsistent bar entry practices, considering Maristela’s claim that she was told to get a VIP table for her to be allowed entry.

“In what other circumstances would it be (okay) to discriminate against someone like that? To deny someone access to public accommodations? Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, whether we’re stopping at a bar for a drink, eating in a restaurant, or seeking medical treatment,” Lloren wrote, admitted to being “stung” by the experience.

WIDESPREAD DISCRIMINATION

According to Naomi Fontanos, who heads Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, “Valykrie is part of a long list of establishments including Embassy Super Club in Taguig, Prive in Makati, Manor Club in Eastwood, Aruba Bar and Restaurant in Metrowalk in Pasig with dress codes that target and oppress transgender women. I have no idea how this dress codes are used in dealing with trans male customers, but they are definitely used to bar entry, refuse service to, and publicly humiliate transgender women in the Philippines whose legal documents of course reflect our male sex assignment at birth and the legal names we were given at birth but did not choose.”

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For Fontanos, “the Valkyrie case demonstrates how widespread the discrimination that transgender Filipinos face not only in getting access to public accommodations such as restaurants, gyms, malls, trains, et cetera, but also to education, employment, and social services including healthcare.”

“No crossdressing” policies are not new. In the past, establishments like Cafe Havana and Ice Vodka Bar in Greenbelt 3 made the news for such policies; these were eventually successfully overturned through advocacy work.

“However, with no national anti-discrimination law in place, these policies actually continue to be enforced although sometimes inconsistently,” Fontanos said.

All the same, for Fontanos, “while an anti-discrimination law in place will certainly help change the situation, the heart of the matter here really is gender-based oppression or how people’s notions of gender become a basis to treat others badly. So, what we really want to change here are perceptions of gender or preconceived notions about what it means to be a gendered person and a customer. And that goes right to the heart of business policy and should be asked of business owners: Do people who do fit into your notions of gender NOT DESERVE to be customers in your establishments? Why? I have found that when you asked these questions, business owners usually have no clear cut answers and realize they impose a silly practice that will give them a bad reputation and lose them customers in the long run. So they eventually remove their anti-trans dress code policy. Some establishments have remained stubborn however like Aruba Bar and Restaurant in Metrowalk, Pasig. This shows that in the Philippines, if you have money and connections, you can get away with bad behavior.”

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OPEN TO DIALOGUE

Outrage Magazine tried to inquire about Valkyrie’s policies through its listed hotline (+63 917 680 8888), but has been unsuccessful in getting any response.*

However, earlier reporting on this same issue in March, Philstar.com was able to speak with a certain Monique who confirmed that they do not allow crossdressers to enter the club.

Asked… for confirmation, Monique clarified that a transgender can still be allowed to enter the club “as long as medyo decent naman daw po ang suot.”

Monique said that by saying decent, they mean “not super sexy” or “not too daring.”

“We allow crossdressers basta huwag lang po daring na iyong tipong mababastos sila,” the receptionist said.

Fontanos said that such venues may let transwomen in later on, but “what if they have a female client who presents as male just because she finds those clothes more comfortable? Or what if they have a real live heterosexual male cross dresser go there? Those people are not necessarily part of the trans, les, bi, gay, queer and intersex (TLBGQI) community, but are also affected by this issue. If we will fight these types of policies, we must fight for the right of all to be themselves.”

“In the end, I hope that Valkyrie agrees to a dialogue and later on lifts its anti-trans dress code policy. Ultimately, what we want is for all establishments to adopt a human rights business policy that upholds the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination across the board,” Fontanos ended.

*THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY, AND OUTRAGE MAGAZINE – JUST AS WE WILL CONTINUE PRESENTING THE SIDE OF THOSE WHO ALLEGE GETTING DISCRIMINATED BY THE VENUE – WILL CONTINUE TO TRY TO REACH OUT TO VALKYRIE TO GET ITS SIDE OF THE STORY

Health & Wellness

Study suggests why some young adults may be more likely to engage in unsafe sex

A study found that heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies in condom negotiation (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for more verbal but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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Photo from Pixabay.com

Gender, sexual orientation, and the desire to form lasting romantic relationships appear to influence sexual risk-taking among young adults, according to a new research published in the Journal of Sex Research.

As far as the researchers are aware, this is the first study to directly compare how heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and men who have sex with men (MSM) differ in their approach to condom decision-making with a new sexual partner.

The findings may help explain why some young people engage in unsafe sex even though they are aware of the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, cervical cancer, and unplanned pregnancy.

To explore this aspect of risk, researchers studied how heterosexual men (157 participants), heterosexual women (177), and MSM (106) aged 18-25 years, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system (a crowdsourcing marketplace) and a university in Canada, make decisions about using condoms.

Participants were presented with a vignette describing an encounter with a hypothetical new sexual or romantic partner and were asked to rate their attitudes and likelihood of choosing particular courses of action, as well as their relationship motivation.

Results showed that all three groups had a preference for different condom negotiation strategies– heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for a balance, choosing more verbal strategies than heterosexual men, but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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The findings may also explain some of the motives and reasoning that influence risky behaviours. For example, the study suggests that heterosexual women may be more willing to take risks when they both have stronger relationship motivation and view their partner as having more relationship potential.

“Understanding what factors make it more difficult to recognize risk during a sexual encounter, such as the desire for a long-term romantic relationship and partner familiarity, can lead to better prevention”, says Dr. Shayna Skakoon-Sparling from the University of Guelph, Canada who led the research. “It is particularly striking that women had lower expectations that their partner would be interested in condom use–this highlights how challenging heterosexual women expect the negotiation of condom use to be.”

The authors conclude that the findings have important implications for policy and prevention and should inform the creation of more effective sexual health education programs and interventions.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect and the authors point to several limitations including that it did not involve women who have sex with women, or any other gender/sexuality minority groups, which could limit the generalisability of the findings. They also note that a hypothetical scenario may not invoke the same emotional response or reflect real-life behavior.

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NEWSMAKERS

Media shape public opinion about surrogacy and homosexuality

One issue that is beginning to arouse public debate about which most audiences do not have any direct experience is the matter of surrogacy on the part of homosexual couples.

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill from Unsplash.com

The media play a key role in informing society and at the same time an important role in shaping perceptions and judgements about social issues, particularly concerning issues on which there is insufficient knowledge and/or a lack of experience. And one issue that is beginning to arouse public debate about which most audiences do not have any direct experience is the matter of surrogacy on the part of homosexual couples.

This was the focus of a research that eyed to explore how public opinion on surrogacy and gay parenthood is shaped. Carried out by Rafael Ventura and Carles Roca-Cuberes, researchers with the Department of Communication at UPF, together with Xosé Ramón Rodríguez-Polo, a researcher at Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid University, this was published in Journal of Homosexuality.

In Spain for instance, according to the barometer of the Sociological Research Centre, 86.8% of the population claims to get its news via the television. Although in principle television news programs aim to produce the most objective content possible, it is also true that they construct discourses about reality that may promote certain behaviors and attitudes by their audiences.

“In our study, we focus on the formation of attitudes about surrogacy and gay parenthood analyzing the audience’s interpretation of a news item broadcast on Spanish television,” said Rafael Ventura, first author of the paper.

To test this, the authors set up four discussion groups consisting of 6 to 10 people each, two adults (40- 60 years) and two younger people (20-30 years), a total of 17 women and 16 men, from Barcelona and Madrid. They then analyzed each person’s interpretation of a television news item broadcast in Spain to perform a qualitative content analysis of the discourse produced by the participants.

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The researchers based themselves on three main issues: the values transmitted by the media about surrogacy; what relationship they attributed to surrogacy and gay parenthood, and finally, if the interpretation of a news item differed according to the age of the audience.

To study the formation of participants’ attitudes, the researchers used a Spanish news item about surrogacy that included all of these key issues. The selected item was broadcast at prime time on TV1, the news program with the largest audience in Spain.

The news item dealt with the fact that surrogacy is illegal in Spain and, therefore, there are increasing numbers of Spanish couples, including homosexual couples, traveling to other countries, such as India, to have a child. The story was illustrated with a real case and the argument revolved around the desire of homosexual couples to become parents and the consequences for the women involved.

Initially, the two groups of participants (adults and youths) stated that they had limited data and a lack of contextual information that prevented them from forming an opinion based on the evidence explained in the news. Nevertheless, both groups agreed in that they rejected surrogacy after watching the news programme, mainly due to the way the news had presented the Indian women: as victims of exploitation and in a situation of poverty. The authors found that as the debate progressed, there was greater rejection towards homosexuals due to the fact that they were taking advantage of the poverty of women in countries like India to achieve their goal of having a baby.

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The results show that the focus of the content of the news put to debate contributed to defending an attitude of the repudiation of surrogacy, with a feeling of aversion that also extended to gay couples wishing to become parents.

“As we saw in the results of our study, attributing responsibilities, placing the debate on surrogacy on the conflict of homosexual couples who want to become parents, on the one hand, and the feminist rejection of the commodification of the woman’s body, on the other, may have very negative consequences for the traditional link between the feminist movement and the LGBT community,” said the authors. “It may feed discriminatory attitudes towards gay couples and create a clash between the feminist and the LGBT causes, forcing the public to adopt a position in favor of one of the two sides, as it is interpreted as a controversy,” they add.

There is still no law specifically dealing with surrogacy in the Philippines, even if this has been entering the Filipino news cycle/awareness because of the involvement of well-to-do people, including Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez, as well as gay fragrance entrepreneur Joel Cruz.

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NEWSMAKERS

Those rejecting gay people ‘don’t have human heart’ – Pope Francis

Even if his LGBTQIA support continues to be spotty, Pope Francis said: “We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity… There are people that prefer to select or discard people, because of the adjective. These people don’t have a human heart.”

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Photo by Tama66 from Pixabay.com

Another rainbow-supporting message from the Vatican – at least on the surface.

“Giving more importance to the adjective (i.e. ‘gay’) than the noun — this is not good.”

This is what Pope Francis said when he met with gay British comedian Stephen K. Amos, one of eight celebrities who participated in BBC Two’s “Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome”, a docu-series about faith and spirituality.

Amos, who is grieving the loss of his mother and twin sister, told the Roman Catholic Church leader that he’s “looking for answers and faith, but as a gay man, I don’t feel accepted.”

Pope Francis responded that “We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity… There are people that prefer to select or discard people, because of the adjective. These people don’t have a human heart.”

The Roman Catholic Church has historically resisted strides in LGBTQIA liberation, but Pope Francis has – particularly on the surface – shown a more progressive view than his predecessors.

But his messages on LGBTQIA issues have been mixed.

In 2013, for instance, he was widely quoted for saying: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

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But in 2018, he reportedly instructed bishops to keep gay men out of the priesthood. He also reportedly criticized trans-inclusive education, arguing instead that children be taught to “accept their own body as it was created”; and he objects to marriage equality.

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Like watching porn? You’re more likely to be bi, says study

Heterosexual people are more likely to watch porn once a week or several times a week, but bi people are more than twice as likely to watch porn several times a day than once a week.

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Photo by SuicideOmen from Pixabay.com

People who watch more porn on a regular basis are more likely to be bisexual, according to a new survey that also noted that LGBTQIA people – in general – are also more likely to watch porn daily.

Porn site xHamster discovered these correlations based on a survey of over 11,000 users who answered questions about their porn watching habits and identity, among others.

Majority (67.7%) of xHamster users identify as heterosexual, with bisexuals the second largest group (22.3%).

Acknowledging that the site has primarily heterosexual content, xHamster noted that watching porn “opens up users to the idea of a more fluid sexuality”.

Overall, the survey found bi people are more likely to watch porn several times a day – i.e. Heterosexual people are more likely to watch porn once a week or several times a week, but bi people are more than twice as likely to watch porn several times a day than once a week.

Note that bi people are in the same league with gay men and lesbians, who watch porn more frequently than their straight peers. While most users (a majority of each group) watch weekly, bi people and gay men and lesbians watch daily more than straight users.

When xHamster isolated the data collated by gender, it found that 38% of women in the survey identified as bisexual, and this may be skewing the data.

But when the data was narrowed down to just bi men, it was found that 10.8% watched once a week and 27.2% watched multiple times a day.

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Majority of the respondents also consider porn as a healthy sexual outlet, with bi people the most likely to agree with this (85%).

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Mormon church drops anti-LGBT policy from 2015; children of same-sex couples can now be baptized

A 2015 church rule stipulated that church members in same-sex marriages were apostates and subject to excommunication, and that children of same-sex couples were banned from rituals like baptisms and baby-naming ceremonies.

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Gilbert Arizona Temple in Gilbert, United States. Photo by Joe Cook from Unsplash.com

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nee Mormon church) announced that it would allow children of same-sex couples to be baptized.

This is a reversal of church policy from one of the more prominent anti-LGBTQIA religious groups. A 2015 church rule stipulated that church members in same-sex marriages were apostates and subject to excommunication, and that children of same-sex couples were banned from rituals like baptisms and baby-naming ceremonies.

But the decision, which was delivered by President Dallin H. Oaks, did not end the church’s teaching that acting on same-sex attraction is sinful.

“While we cannot change the Lord’s doctrine, we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality,” the First Presidency, the church’s highest governing body, said in a statement. “We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today.

It is worth noting that the church still considers same-sex marriage “to be a serious transgression,” the statement added, but “it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline.”

It added that instead, “the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.”

The 2015 policy allowed children of same-sex couples to join the church only after they reached the age of 18 and moved out of their parents’ homes, technically abandoning their families. They also had to disavow same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s leadership.

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Gay, lesbian, bi people more likely to perpetrate or become victims of ‘revenge porn’

The rainbow community is tarnished, with gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents more than twice as likely to admit to taking and threatening to distribute sexual images of another person without their consent. They were also 2.5 times more likely to actually distribute them.

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Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are more likely to perpetrate or become victims of “revenge porn” and other forms of abuse involving sexual photos or videos.

This is according to a study done by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and first reported by Perth Now.

The researchers polled more than 4,200 people aged 16 to 49, asking them if they’d secretly taken photos or videos of someone, distributed the images, or threatened to do so. Eleven percent (11%) admitted to engaging in some form of image-based sexual abuse over their lifetime.

Behaviors included here are: receiving a consensually-shared nude or sexual selfie and sending it onto others without the subject’s consent; covertly filming or photographing someone without their knowledge; and threatening to share or sharing explicit images of another person — including past sexual partners — in an attempt to embarrass or humiliate others.

Another 9% of the respondents said that they had taken nude or sexual photos or videos of someone without their consent, and 6% admitted to distributing such images. This includes instances where people covertly filmed up women’s skirts or down their blouses.

Interestingly, self-identified victims of these abuses were also more likely to be abusers. And these abusers were also more likely to share images of people they knew, including partners, ex-partners, friends and even relatives, rather than images of strangers.

Men were twice as likely as women to admit to perpetrating revenge porn.

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The rainbow community is tarnished, with gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents more than twice as likely to admit to taking and threatening to distribute sexual images of another person without their consent. They were also 2.5 times more likely to actually distribute them.

Additionally, gay and bisexual men were more likely to engage in such behavior than lesbian or bisexual women.

Governments all over the world are actually already developing/implementing laws pertaining “revenge porn:, even if the success of cases still largely depend on the willingness of victims to go after the perpetrators.

In the Philippines, for instance, there is an existing Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 (Republic Act 9995) that eyes to prevent the publication, copying and distribution of similar materials that would damage the honor of a person on media platforms.

However, violations to this law continue to increase. Data from the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Cybercrime division show that in the first three months of 2019 alone, there were already 142 reported cases of violations of RA 9995, a figure surpassing the total 94 cases filed in all of 2018.

For its part, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) recorded 106 cases in the first two months of the year: 49 in January and 57 in February.

Members of the local LGBTQIA community also make the news for this, including – and more recently – the Vic Fabe scandal.

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