I am one with my fellow transpinays, STRAP, in their candle-lighting ceremony and readings event later at my old NGO office Isis International Manila. I'm just jampacked today so I can't make it.
The list of worldwide events to commemorate this day is here.
I also wrote two trans-related articles this month for POC Pinoy LGBT, in commemoration of this. It's sad that outside the lgbtq and specifically in trans advocate communities, the Philippines never really try to make an effort in understanding the trans identity. That's what my first article is about, sort of a Trans 101 Pinoy style type of article.
To put it simply, we should all respect what a person wants in terms of labeling herself or himself in terms of gender identities. Thus, if you meet a transgender person, please ask them first what their identity is and how they want to be addressed. If you know a biological male who started dressing like a woman and presents himself as a woman, please don’t pin him to a label he doesn’t want to be identified with. If he wants to be identified as a woman because he feels his heart, mind and soul is that of a woman’s, then refer to him as a woman – not a gay man, not a bisexual man, and not a “transvestite” since gender identity doesn’t involve merely dressing up. It’s the same for transmen, or biologically-born women who want to be identified as men. Stop calling them lesbians if their identity is beyond that.The article title is "Trans identities in the (Pinoy) SOGI alphabet." Read more here.
I know that in the Philippine context, this is mostly a struggle reflected not only outside the LGBTQ community but also within it sometimes – proper recognition. Since the country runs on default dichotomies of labeling people (man/woman, straight/gay, heterosexual/homosexual, good/bad), people are automatically lumped in either/or categories, no in-betweens, and certainly no patience for varied sub-identities. It’s either you’re just gay, or you’re just lesbian. What if you’re not just that? Again, where are the Bs, Ts, and Qs?
The other article is the more interesting one (it comes out anytime this week), since I detail there how, for the first time in my life, I've seen a transman, or those born females but transitioned and went under the knife to become male. We call this FTM, female to male but they are post-op. It was soooo cool! It was when I was doing this video, actually, for Mama Cash Netherlands, last summer.
Yes, the Spanish-speaking one there, Andres, is the transman. I just wished we didn't have a huge language barrier. Mi espanyol no es bueno kasi hehe ay caramba. I wanted to converse with him sana about lots of things about this. Grabe it's just sooo cool!
I guess I'm interested in these things because since I have embraced the queer label instead of the lesbian (specifically the lesbian-feminist), it is somehow related to questioning gender nuances. That's why I prefer to be a genderqueer person, meaning someone who doesn't give a damn about the man/woman labels, because it's limiting, and especially its heterosexist application in the Filipino lesbian context. What I mean is when you are a lesbian in the Philippines, you are made to "choose" if you are butch or femme, and if you are butch, almost always you have to be like a man and people refer to you as a man. If you are femme naman, you assume the "woman role" in a relationship.
I don't like this, really. It's so patriarchal. I had a good conversation about this last night with a good friend of mine, a lesbian who is my "exclu buddy" hehe meaning we only get to see each other, at least once a year, whenever there's an exclusive party going on haha! And we update each other on our lives and our friends and such. And we were just amazed yesterday because we saw that the lesbian scene outside the advocacy community is still pretty much the same -- butch-femme dichotomies abound. I wondered about this and she said that as long as patriarchy is not dead, we will have such patriarchal mimicry in our spheres. I was like PAK! Swak sa banga, teh. Grabe. May tama siya. Interesting.
Oh, if you're wondering what an exclusive party is, check out this article I wrote about it. Yes, it's an exclusive event for lesbians. Or women who love women.
Last summer din, I also met someone who identifies as gender nonconforming, Christine Sun, this queer rights lawyer na Asian-American. And she was so cool about it. We had an interesting conversation thanks to the US Embassy people who brought her here. I also wrote an article about that here.
Yeah so I think more than anything, I could also be gender nonconforming since I don't really want to subscribe to merely being referred to as a man or a woman. Kaya going back to these un-politicized lez circles -- and even the politicized circles rin naman -- they're still having a hard time grasping such newer forms of identities. I think aside from me, I only know one person who wants to seriously transition naman to the trans identity for real, not merely sa genderqueer and nonconforming like me. She is a good friend and I am happy that she's finding her true self again these days. I guess we all make those journeys once in a while, several times in our lifetime, and I support her all the way, wherever level she wants to take her identity anew. I'm all for that, as long as it finds her happiness.
As for me, well, most times I just keep these things to myself because it's also quite tiresome to explain to people, especially to people you know won't really absorb the answers but are merely making conversation. But I'd gladly lecture on this to those who want to listen, and certainly I won't stop writing about it.