Deaf transpinay Disney Aguila can recall how, in December 2010, she started getting involved in the LGBT community in the Philippines. By becoming a member of the Deaf Pink Club (which eventually became Pinoy Deaf Rainbow in 2012), she was able to widen her social circle both at the school she went to, and the Deaf community she moved into.
What may be considered as a person-focused move, nonetheless, eventually evolved into a more community-focused one, as her involvement in PDR helped in giving face to the transpinay in the Deaf community in the Philippines – whether via representations in media coverages, or via the Miss Deaf Gay Philippines beauty pageant (as one of the people behind the scene when it was first held, and as the eventual second runner-up in the 2012 pageant). She also became a part of the Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center), as one of the deaf LGBTs (with PDR president Henry Perey) in position of power to effect the decisions on the direction of efforts made.
“I believe that a lot of the members of the LGBT community suffer from discrimination,” she said in Filipino Sign Language. “But I also believe that the discrimination suffered by Deaf members of the LGBT community is even worse.”
What the Deaf LGBTs suffer, and that Hearing LGBTs may not experience (or at least know how to navigate by using spoken languages), include the lack of opportunities, often because many in the Hearing community is unable to go beyond their misconceptions about members of the Deaf community. These could be in finding employment, getting accepted in educational institutions, et cetera.
Disney said that, in a way, Deaf LGBTs are “doubly discriminated”.
No self-pity can be seen from this transpinay, however, as she pushes instead for a pro-active approach to effecting changes. “The LGBT community inspires me because of its constant push for equal rights for all,” she says. “It is our community that highlights the need to value a person for who he/she truly is.”
Efforts she has been helping making happen include: Bahaghari Center’s campaign to help increase awareness on the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), aiding in the forming of awareness efforts for Deaf LGBTs, and representation of the transpinay from the Deaf community.
Disney recognizes that “we still have a long way to go as far as promotion of LGBT concerns is concerned,” she says, considering that “there is not even a law existing to protect us.” But she believes that “we’ll get there.”
As for the Deaf LGBTs, Disney says that she wants for its members “to know how protect our self by knowing about our rights and how to fight for them.” For now, therefore, joining in the advocacies to “fight for our rights is a good first step.”