Is UP ready for a transgender student council chair?

Voltaire Tupaz
Heart Dino is campaigning to win as president of the state university's student council

MANILA, Philippines – Heart Dino looked at the mirror and faced the camera, but requested for a reshoot after seeing the video of the interview. The candidate for chairperson of the UP Diliman university student council (USC) forgot to put on powder. 

How Dino looks in public is not just a function of political packaging but is part and parcel of the gender identity she has embraced.

Although born male, Dino prefers feminine pronouns and considers himself a “transgender.” For this story, Dino will be referred to as she.

In high school, she and her other gay friends christened themselves with “girl names” of famous young actresses: Angel, Anne, Angelica and Heart.

“I’m a man but I identify myself as a woman,” the first year MS Applied Math major stressed.


Dino is running on a platform of “zero cases of gender discrimination and sexual harassment and zero tolerance for fraternity-related violence.” 

The concurrent chair of the USC gender committee staunchly promoted gender equality when she first ran as a councilor.

“My expertise should not be taken as my limitation,” the first transgender candidate for chairperson asserted.

The committee which promotes gender sensitivity was introduced in 1997 during the term of National Youth Commission Commissioner-at-Large Percival Cendaña, the first openly gay USC chairperson. 

Since its formation in 1913, the USC has been a male-dominated student institution with only 6 women serving as chairpersons. 

On Thursday, March 1, Dino will match up against two fratmen and a woman: 4th year BS Economics major Amancio Melad III of Alpha Phi Omega; 4th year Juris Doctor and independent candidate Jose Martin Loon of Sigma Rho, and 4th year BA Tourism major Maria Shaina Santiago.

HEART DIÑO. Will she be the first transgender UP Diliman student council chair?

Gentlemen’s policy

The candidacy form Dino accomplished seeking a high student government position in the premiere state university is the antithesis of the contract she once signed as a student of an exclusive high school for boys.

The agreement she signed upheld a “gentleman’s policy” that prohibited gay students from flocking together, screaming and wearing lipstick. According to Dino, there was no chance her leadership skills would shine under such suppressive circumstances, she lamented.

In a historic resolution passed in June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“I worked within the limits. But now I’m taking the lead,” a bolder Dino said.

But the question is, are UP students ready to follow her? –

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