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Week 1: Road to #JusticeforJennifer

The first week of the trial of US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the main suspect in the death of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude, ended, and was marked with various developments, including the re-emergence of the issue of plea bargain, and the appearance in court of key witnesses.



Jennifer Laude's mother still in anguish over the death of her daughter.

Jennifer Laude’s mother, Julita, still in anguish over the death of her daughter, at a press conference.

Various developments marked the first week of the trial of US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the main suspect in the death of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude, including the re-emergence of the issue of plea bargain, and the appearance in court of key witnesses.


The camp of slain transgender woman Laude expressed dismay over Olongapo City Prosecutor Emilie delos Santos for allegedly pushing the family to enter a plea bargain agreement with the camp of Pemberton.

Atty. Virgie Suarez (TOP), and Jennifer Laude's siblings face the media.

Atty. Virgie Suarez (TOP), and Jennifer Laude’s siblings face the media.

Hours before the trial began, the lead counsel of the Laude family, Atty. Harry Roque, said that “in the last hearing, she (Delos Santos) manifested that she would want to proceed with the plea bargain, where Pemberton could plea to a charge of homicide and will allow the civil case to continue; (this) is unprecedented,” Roque said. “Given the preference of Judge Delos Santos to enter this plea bargain, there’s now no guarantee for the Laude family that the prosecution will remain steadfast to procure a conviction for murder.”

Due to this, the camp of Laude submitted a formal request to the Department of Justice, requesting for Delos Santos to be replaced.

“The Laudes (submitted) a formal letter to ask that Delos Santos should be replaced, believing that thousand of prosecutors in the National Prosecution Service ought to be prosecuting, as they would be able and willing to see a convicted Pemberton for murder and not homicide,” Roque said.

Delos Santos denied the claim that she is pushing for a P21-million plea bargain deal in the case.

DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima already said that she would look into the complaint of the Laude family against Delos Santos, and has also directed the prosecutor to make comment about it “before I make a decision.”

Roque remained optimistic that their request will be granted by the DOJ.

“The victims have lost their confidence with the public prosecutor. I don’t see why the DOJ Secretary will consider Delos Santos as absolutely indispensable in this case given her actuation. And take note, her actuation took place in court. (And if our request is denied), we will go to court. Victims cannot be ignored in a criminal case,” Roque said.


A bellboy at the Celzone Lodge, the hotel where Jennifer was found dead, took the stand on March 23, the first day of trial.

Elias Gallamos, the first witness presented by the government prosecutors, narrated the what he witnessed on the night of October 11, the night Laude was killed.  Gallamos identified Pemberton as the man he saw with Jennifer, when the two checked-in at the hotel; he pointed to Pemberton, who sat in the courtroom, according to one of the Laude’s lawyers.

The US marine and Laude supposedly met at Ambyanz Disco earlier the night before they headed to Celzone Lodge.

Other details of the proceedings were not made available to journalists, as media coverage was barred during the trial.


The star witness of the prosecution took the stand on the second day of the trial.

Barbie (birth name Mark Clarence Gelviro), a close friend of Laude, first made her testimony in the Senate, when Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago requested for her presence last October 2014.

It was noted by Atty. Virgie Suarez, lawyer of the Laude family, that during the trial last March 24, Barbie was calm and consistent with her answers, and “she showed confidence the entire time, and that was a good thing.”

The defense did not show much objections throughout Barbie’s narration. For Suarez, this may be a tactical response on their part.

During the direct examination, Barbie also admitted that she’s a sex worker. However, she said that she does not know if Jennifer was also engaged in sex work.

“I may say that there were questions na hindi magaganda (that were distasteful), focusing on Barbie being a sex worker or a prostitute. But I don’t think those issues (Barbie being a sex worker) will in any way lessen her testimony, because again, being a prostitute does not mean that you can’t be killed when your customer is not satisfied or anything,” Suarez said.

On the issue of a plea bargain, Suarez said that it’s no longer an issue as “we are now on trial, so that’s already water under the bridge and we can no longer get back to the that. We are now proceeding with trial, tuloy tuloy na ito (this will already progress).”

But the trial ended early, as the third witness – Jacinto Miraflor, Celzone Lodge’s security guard on duty at the time when Jennifer was found dead – was not able to testify due to health reasons.

Julita, the mother of Jennifer; and Marilou, her sister, may also become possible witnesses.  They were therefore not allowed to be inside the courtroom during the trial.  Michelle, another sister of Jennifer, was the only one present in the courtroom.

“Normal na normal si Barbie sa loob, hindi siya natatakot. Nakakatuwa dahil nung tinuro niya talaga si Pemberton, na si Pemberton talaga ‘yung kasama nila that night, tumayo siya (Pemberton), makikita mo sa mukha niya na nahihiya siya, na-conscious siya (Barbie was very normal/natural, she was not scared. It was good that when she pointed out Pemberton, that it was Pemberton who was with them that night, he stood up, and you can see in his face that he was ashamed, he looked conscious),” Michelle said.


Although Julita was not present in the courtroom, but she waited outside.

Ang babaw talaga ng kaligayahan ang tingin nila sa amin. Talagang akala nila na pwede na nila magawa o maapakan ‘yung karapatan namin. Ang gusto ko lang naman talaga mangyari ay ‘yung makulong siya (Pemberton), maranasan niya, maisip man lang niya, bakit ko ginawa ‘yun (They think our source of happiness is very shallow. They think they can take or step on our rights. What we really want to happen is for him to be jailed, for him to experience, to make him realize why he did what he did),” she said.

Julita also expressed dismay over the supposed P21 million agreement with the camp of Pemberton.

Ang sinasabi nila na ganung halaga ang hinihingi namin, hindi katumbas ‘yun. Kasi ako ang nakakaalam kung gaano kasakit ang nangyari. Hindi na nila maibabalik sa akin ‘yung anak ko, ‘yung pagmamahal niya, ‘yung haplos niya tuwing nagkikita kami, hindi mababayaran ng milyon (When they said that that’s the amount we’re asking for, I say that’s not worth considering. Because I personally know how painful what happened is. They can not return to me my child, her love, her touches whenever we see each other; they can’t pay those even with millions),” she said.

The trial will resume on April 13 and is expected to last until September.

Living life a day at a time – and writing about it, is what Patrick King believes in. A media man, he does not only write (for print) and produce (for a credible show of a local giant network), but – on occasion – goes behind the camera for pride-worthy shots (hey, he helped make Bahaghari Center’s "I dare to care about equality" campaign happen!). He is the senior associate editor of OutrageMag, with his column, "Suspension of Disbelief", covering anything and everything. Whoever said business and pleasure couldn’t mix (that is, partying and working) has yet to meet Patrick King, that’s for sure!


Feelings of anxiety, loneliness widespread among gay, bi, other MSM amid isolation caused by COVID-19

The harm may be more severe among gay and bisexual men, who face disproportionate rates of poor mental health and sexual health outcomes. COVID-19 has exacerbated stress, anxiety and social isolation within our communities.



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Sixty-three percent of gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) reported only leaving their home for essentials amid the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting being in isolation has contributed to feelings of anxiety and loneliness, and dissatisfaction with their sex life.

This is according to a new UCLA-led study – “Associations Between Physical Distancing and Mental Health, Sexual Health and Technology Use Among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men During the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Ian W. Holloway, PhD, MPH, MSW; Alex Garner, BA; Diane Tan, MSPH; Ayako Miyashita Ochoa, JD; Glen Milo Santos, PhD, MPH; and Sean Howell, BS – that was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

Due to COVID-19, physical distancing measures have been implemented globally. The researchers, nonetheless, recognize the LGBTQIA community – where the respondents for this study belong to – is historically already disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. And so the COVID-19 restrictions may add to this.

For this study, 10,079 men in 20 countries were surveyed in April and May 2020 on Hornet, a social networking app, which also participated in the research.

Most of the participants were between the ages of 18 and 34 (55.5%), identified as gay (78.6%), were currently employed (67.7%) and had health care coverage (85.4%). In addition, most lived in a large urban center (69.8%) and were not in a relationship at the time of the survey (67.4%).

The study found:

  • Nearly two-thirds of participants (63%) reported only leaving their home for essentials
  • 37% more likely to feel anxious than those who haven’t stayed in
  • 36% more likely to feel lonely
  • 28% more likely to use text messaging to stay connected with others
  • 54% more likely to use video calls to connect with others
  • Risk reduction and telehealth opportunities may alleviate health challenges for GBMSM in the COVID-19 era

“We know that all people are affected by the isolation that can result from physical distancing,” said Holloway. But the concern is that “the harm may be more severe among gay and bisexual men, who face disproportionate rates of poor mental health and sexual health outcomes. COVID-19 has exacerbated stress, anxiety and social isolation within our communities.”

Social networking apps provide an opportunity for people around the world to connect with others, even cultivating a sense of community. As such, according to co-author Garner, “we must invest in interventions that include harm reduction approaches and leverage technology where possible to increase access to necessary health services and strengthen community connections.”

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Love Affairs

Transgender, gender non-conforming teens face unique challenges when dating

Young people who are transgender and gender nonconforming face a different set of challenges than peers during these developmental milestones, a new study suggests.



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Experiencing transphobia and abuse, and struggling with the decision to divulge their gender identity throughout their transition. These are what transgender and gender non-conforming (TNGC) adolescents face when dating, according to a study – “Romantic Relationships in Transgender Adolescents: a Qualitative Study” by Adrian C. Araya, Rebecca Warwick, Daniel Shumer and Ellen Selkie – that appeared in Pediatrics.

According to the study, adolescence is a period of identity formation, a time of questioning one’s belonging and one’s role in society, and a shift from family relationship dependence to preference for friendship. It is also recognized as a time of exploration of love and intimacy, which is considered to be critical to development and adjustment.

But young people who are transgender and gender nonconforming face a different set of challenges than peers during these developmental milestones, the study suggests.

For this study, 30 adolescents (18 transmasculine and 12 transfeminine) between the ages of 15 and 20 years were interviewed. Themes included (1) engagement in romantic relationships, (2) disclosure of gender identity and romantic relationships, (3) experience with abusive relationships, and (4) perceived impact of gender-affirming hormone care on romantic experiences.

The study found that:

  • TGNC adolescents are engaged in romantic experiences before and during social and/or medical transitioning and are cultivating relationships through both proximal peers and online connections.
  • There is perceived benefit of gender-affirming hormone care on romantic experiences.
  • Risk of transphobia in romantic relationships impacts the approach that transgender adolescents take toward romance and influences decisions of identity disclosure.
  • TGNC adolescents have experience with relationship abuse in different forms.

The study also noted that romantic pursuit was hampered by transphobia perpetuated by both cisgender and transgender individuals. This transphobia may stem from adhering to gender binary and correlating sex assigned at birth to gender identity.

To deal with this situation, the researchers suggested that providers should incorporate changes in their approach to counseling and screening when caring for TGNC youth.

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Racism, anti-gay and HIV discrimination heighten risk for arrest and incarceration

Discrimination can occur at all stages of criminal justice involvement, from differential enforcement and/or threats of violence by police officers to court proceedings and sentencings.



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Racial discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, and HIV-status discrimination are all associated with risk for criminal justice involvement.

This is according to new research done by Morgan Philbin, PhD, at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues, and which appears in the journal Stigma and Health.

As it is, there’s recognition that Black men are imprisoned at nearly seven times the rate of White men; sexual minority young adults are nearly three times more likely to report being criminally sanctioned compared to their heterosexual peers; and the rate of HIV among prisoners is multiple times higher than the general population. Discrimination can occur at all stages of criminal justice involvement, from differential enforcement and/or threats of violence by police officers to court proceedings and sentencings.

The researcher, therefore, wanted to look at why Black young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are disproportionately subject to high rates of arrest and incarceration. For this, 465 Black YMSM at risk for HIV in North Carolina were tapped. Participants completed four online surveys over the course of one year to assess the three predictors at baseline and criminal justice involvement at 3, 6, and 12-month follow-up (the study excluded men with criminal justice involvement at baseline). The researchers assessed discrimination through survey questions asking whether participants were, for example, treated with hostility/coldness by strangers, rejected by a potential sexual/romantic partner, denied a place to live, denied a job, and physically assaulted due to their race, sexual orientation; they also explored how individuals living with HIV were treated within their community.

The research found that perceived racism was the strongest predictor of subsequent criminal justice involvement (29% increased odds) followed by perceptions of sexual orientation discrimination (12% increased odds) and HIV discrimination (6% increased odds).

“Discrimination, in this instance related to race, sexual identity and HIV, is an important driver of health and life opportunities because it directly influences physical and mental health outcomes and can constrain access to education, jobs, and housing,” says Philbin. “Perceived discrimination – especially the experience of racism – placed the men in this study at an increased risk for arrest and incarceration.”

For the researchers, to better understand the lived realities of people burdened with overlapping forms of discrimination, “we must account for the compounding nature of these intersecting axes of social inequality,” says Philbin. “We find that experiences of racism and discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV status combine to raise these young men’s risk for criminal justice involvement.”

Additional authors include Timothy W. Menza, Oregon Health Authority, Portland; Sara H. Legrand, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Kathryn E. Muessig and Lisa Hightow-Weidman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill.

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual medical students more likely to experience burnout – study

17% of LGB medical students reported high levels of burnout compared to 11.1% of heterosexual students.



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Studies have shown that nearly half of all medical students – at least in the US – report symptoms of burnout, a long-term reaction to stress characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of decreased personal accomplishment. Beyond the personal toll, the implications for aspiring and practicing physicians can be severe, from reduced quality of care to increased risk of patient safety incidents.

According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience burnout.

“The health and well-being of trainees is intimately linked to the quality of patient care, physician retention, and is key to reducing care inequities,” said lead author Dr. Elizabeth Samuels, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “Understanding how the current medical training environment impacts lesbian, gay and bisexual medical students is critical for improving their training experience, building and retaining a workforce of LGB physicians, and also delivering optimal care to all patients — especially those who also identify as LGBTQI+.”

Samuels, who is a practicing emergency physician at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital, focused previous research on equity and diversity in the health care workforce and the care of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Data from Association of American Medical Colleges’ annual survey of graduating medical school served as the basis for this study.

The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from Yale University, is based on data from the 2016 and 2017 AAMC Medical School Graduation Questionnaire, a national survey that includes questions on everything from medical education to financial costs to clinical experiences. In the survey are questions about negative experiences (mistreatment, burnout) and identity, including sexual orientation. Response options include “heterosexual or straight,” “gay or lesbian” and “bisexual.” The study combined the former into the category of LGB. Information about the gender identity of students who identify as transgender or genderqueer was not provided to the researchers for analysis.

In the study’s analysis of 26,123 total responses, 17% of LGB medical students reported high levels of burnout compared to 11.1% of heterosexual students.

Potential causes of burnout include the intensity of medical training, strained finances and unattainable expectations, the authors note in the study. Mistreatment is also a contributing factor, and there has been increased interest in examining its effects on trainees from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine. However, research has yet to focus specifically on LGB medical students.

In the study, LGB students also reported a higher frequency of perceived mistreatment. For example, 27% of LGB students reported being publicly humiliated, compared with 20.7% of heterosexual students; 23.3% reported perceived mistreatment specific to their sexual orientation at least once during medical school, compared with 1% of heterosexual students.

Samuels notes that mistreatment didn’t completely explain the emotional strain experienced by LGB medical students, who were 30% more likely to experience burnout even after adjusting for reported experiences of mistreatment.

The researchers found that LGB students reporting frequent experiences of mistreatment related to their sexual orientation had an 8 times higher likelihood of burnout compared to heterosexual students. This difference was dramatic when mistreatment occurred more frequently, Samuels said. But at lower levels of mistreatment, the differences weren’t as extreme.

“I think this shows people’s resiliency — up to a point,” Samuels said.

Samuels asserts that there are characteristics of medical training, separate from individual experiences of mistreatment, that leads to increased burnout among LGB trainees. After all, previous studies have shown that a high of LGB medical students report concealing their sexual identity during medical school for fear of discrimination. They also report more depression, anxiety, and low self-rated health compared with heterosexual students.

“Layering concerns about homophobia and discrimination on top of the general intensity of medical training can lead not just to burnout, but also to truly deleterious mental health effects,” Samuels said.

These findings underscore the need for continued, comprehensive support and mentorship for LGBTQ medical students, and the importance of institutional culture change to create healthy, diverse, inclusive medical school learning environments.

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PUP Kasarianlan schedules Pride on March 4-6

For PUP Kasarianlan, “it is important that we do not lose sight of the very reasons for our unity— freedom, equality, and empowerment. Now more than ever is the time to come out as one in creating tangible efforts to immerse ourselves in our advocacies.”



PUP Kasarianlan, the official student organization of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) for people with diverse SOGIE, has scheduled its annual PUP Pride on March 4, 5 and 6 largely via Zoom.

In a statement, the organization stated that this is “not only… a celebration of love and diversity among people of diverse SOGIE, but it is also a call for everybody to take a stand in our continuous fight for equality and freedom toward a promising future for all of us.”

Themed “Tindig, Laban: Kolektibong Kasarinlan”, this year’s gathering is a continuation of 2020’s “Defying Adversity, Forwarding Advocacy”, which “celebrated the diversity among every Iskolar ng Bayan as we strive to move forward with our advocacies within the community.” This time, though, “we further acknowledge and embrace our differences.”

For PUP Kasarianlan, “it is important that we do not lose sight of the very reasons for our unity— freedom, equality, and empowerment. Now more than ever is the time to come out as one in creating tangible efforts to immerse ourselves in our advocacies. It is not enough that our actions are limited to just raising awareness, there is also a need for us to mobilize and encourage everyone to go out and take our fight to the streets.”

This event also eyes to reach out to legislators to initiate ordinances that would protect the LGBTQIA community against bigotry and discrimination. 

The week-long event includes seminars/forum for basic knowledge of SOGIE, HIV and AIDS, feminism, and timely issues affecting the LGBTQIA Filipino community especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will also be performances.

For more information, head to PUP Kasarianlan’s Facebook page.

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Gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ widened by COVID-19 pandemic – study



Let the distance be physical. Image created by Cristina Estanislao. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives - help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Those belonging in minority sectors are greatly affected by Covid-19; more so than others.

This is according to a study by Indiana University which found women, younger individuals, those with lower levels of formal education, and people of color being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study noted that Black adults, for instance, were three times as likely as Whites to report food insecurity, being laid off, or being unemployed during the pandemic. Additionally, residents without a college degree were twice as likely to report food insecurity (compared to those with some college) while those not completing high school are four times as likely to report it, compared to those with a bachelor’s degree.

These patterns persisted even after taking into account employment status and financial hardship before the pandemic, suggesting that the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is being widened by the crisis.

The study found that younger adults and women were also more likely to report economic hardships.

“It is clear that the pandemic has had an extraordinary impact on the economic security of individuals who were already vulnerable and among disadvantaged groups,” said Bernice Pescosolido, co-author of the study. There is, therefore, a “need for strategically deployed relief efforts and longer-term policy reforms to challenge the perennial and unequal impact of disasters.”

Researchers utilized the Person to Person Health Interview Study (P2P) – a statewide representative, face-to-face survey – to interview nearly 1,000 Indiana residents before (October 2018-March 2020) and during the initial stay at home order in (March-May 2020). Their goal was to determine differences in experiences of economic hardship among historically advantaged and disadvantaged groups following the COVID-19 lockdown. The authors measured four self-reported indicators of economic precarity: housing insecurity, food insecurity, general financial insecurity, and unemployment or job loss.

Previous research has shown global crises tend to disproportionally impact those who were already struggling financially, and it takes more vulnerable communities significantly longer to recover from disasters.

In the Philippines, for instance, members of the LGBTQIA community have lamented the effect of COVID-19 on their employment. Worse, government efforts often exclude them because of discriminatory policies.

Many of the Filipino living people living with HIV (many of them members of the LGBTQIA community) also encounter issues due to COVID-19 – e.g. loss of employment, access to treatment/medicines, etc.

“Providing basic resources to all… such as generous unemployment benefits, paid family leave, affordable federal housing and universal preschool will help communities better weather crisis,” said Brea Perry, professor of sociology at IU and co-author of the study. “We need to rethink how we intervene in disasters and also strengthen our social safety net for everyone.”

For the researchers, while the impact of COVID-19 may not be fully understood at this time, rebuilding public health and other social structures will not only assist disadvantaged groups in times of need, it will also help society at large.

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