Transgender ‘turns gay’ to please father

Ian Nicolas Cigaral
Transgender ‘turns gay’ to please father
A bill seeking to address discrimination against gays is pending in Congress

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Jimmy Mendoza, 23, broke into tears as he told his story of how he transformed his identity from being a transgender to gay in order for his father to accept him. But despite the changes he made to himself, his father still does not approve of his identity.

“I did everything to change myself, but my father would still beat me. Even though I’m all grown-up, he still beats me,” Mendoza shared in a recent gathering of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Quezon City to tackle the Anti-Discrimination bill pending in Congress.

Mendoza, a transgender, was born biologically male but identifies as a woman. She is only one of the millions from the LGBT community who experience discrimination around the world. (READ: Gay and proud in June and all year round)

If passed, the bill would provide unprecedented protection for the LGBT community across the Philippines by penalizing and preventing gender discrimination.

Ging Cristobal, project coordinator for International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), said the gathering helped homosexuals and transgenders relate their unique experiences to the importance and urgency of the measure.

“The Anti-Discrimination bill symbolizes the need for society to realize that it is wrong to discriminate LGBT people and it should be changed,” Cristobal stressed.

Cristobal also said the root causes of negative sentiments toward homosexuality is lack of knowledge or misinformation. 

GAY PRIDE. It might take a long time before more inclusive Philippine policies are made. A good first step we can do today is to end the hate. Photo taken during the 2013 UP Pride March. Photo from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com

Reclaim your rights

Cristobal also argued the LGBT are sometimes at fault because they allow others to discriminate them.

“You reclaim your right because if you do not believe that you are a human being with human rights, all our efforts will be useless,” Cristobal said.

In the Philippines today, only 10% of Filipinos live in cities covered by local anti-discrimination ordinances. Attitudes toward LGBT people remain hostile in many areas, Cristobal said.

There is a need for victims of discrimination to tell their own stories, organizers of the gathering said.

“Nobody else would know our story, our nuance, our multi-dimensional existence than ourselves. And when we tell that story, people get to know the real us,” Gender Proud founder Geena Rocero said.

Gender Proud partnered with the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP) to build awareness about the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

For the past 16 years, advocates have been lobbying Congress to pass an anti-discrimination measure. There are two proposals in Congress: (1) the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression-specific; and the (2) comprehensive anti-discrimination bill, which includes people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, senior citizens, among other marginalized sectors.

Cristobal said the House of Representatives committee on women approved the first one, but it does not have a counterpart in the Senate. The second bill still needs to be heard. – Rappler.com

Ian Cigaral is a Rappler intern.

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