MANILA, Philippines — Valkyrie, the high-end nightclub that refused entry to transgender fashion designer Veejay Floresca, formally apologized on Monday, June 22.
“Club management would like to apologize to these individuals if the denial of entry resulted in their embarrassment or made them feel disrespected in any way,” the management of Valkyrie said in a statement sent to entertainment site Pep.ph.
“In denying entry to these individuals, the Club’s personnel were merely adhering to its safety policies and guidelines,” it clarified.
Over the weekend, advocates and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community protested online after Floresca, who was with her transwomen friends, was stopped from entering the nightclub in Taguig City on Saturday night, June 20.
“Lalaki pa rin ‘yan, (He’s still a man),” the club’s bouncer commented even after Floresca showed her California State ID that indicated her female name and gender marker.
In response, the Valkyrie management said the establishment does not refuse entry based on one’s sexual orientation. It added that they do not discriminate against transgender individuals.
Vice Ganda threatens pull-out
Meanwhile, popular host-performer Vice Ganda also threatened to pull out his shares from the club if the Valkyrie continues to implement its “no cross-dressing policy.”
The ‘No Crossdressing Policy’ in any establishment is so THIRD WORLD. If Valkyrie implements this crap i will pull out my very small share.— jose marie viceral (@vicegandako) June 22, 2015
To all members of the LGBT community: I AM ONE OF YOU AND I AM ONE WITH YOU.— jose marie viceral (@vicegandako) June 22, 2015
Advocates are not satisfied with the club’s apology, questioning how a “no-cross-dressing-policy” is even related to safety.
Geena Rocero, fashion model and transgender rights advocate, told Rappler that Valkyrie’s apology is incomplete. Rocero said her group is meeting with the Valkyrie management on June 29.
“We have a meeting on 29th, they should wait before making public statements,” Rocero said, stressing that the club did not apologize for the bouncer calling Floresco a male.
Floresca earlier said while she respects the rules of Valkyrie, she particularly wants the ban lifted. (READ: Veejay Floresca: Lift Valkyrie’s ban on ‘crossdressers’)
“I propose they should change the dress code,” stressed Floresca.
“I felt bad not for myself but for other transgender women who don’t have female IDs, who were embarrassed, who felt discriminated,” she lamented.
On the same day Valkyrie issued its apology, Trixie Maristela, another transwoman involved in the incident, spoke on the issue.
On Facebook, Maristela posted what she wore that night, asking what made her attire “inappropriate.”
Maristela said she arrived at Valkyrie at 11:30pm, together with her boyfriend and her sister. As with most clubs, they were asked to line up for bag and ID inspection.
“Then this lady security personnel told me that I am not dressed properly,” Maristela said. “So tinanong ko kung ano ang masama sa suot ko.” (So I asked what’s wrong with my attire).
The security personnel, according to Maristela, then pointed her to the dress policy poster by the club’s entrance. “And insisted that I should be wearing the proper attire for males,” Maristela added.
“I knew at that moment where the argument would lead to and the what they would say to harass me further. I didn’t give in, I insisted on my right because for one, I am dressed accordingly, and second, because I’ve been frequenting the club many times,” she continued.
She said the club staff did not refer to her as a “cross-dresser,” but insisted that she is a man based on her ID. She has frequented the bar before, but this was the first time she was barred from entering.
“It is absurd that they don’t allow trans individuals due to their problematic and stringent dress code policy, but that they can actually disregard these rules when money is thrown at them,” she argued.
Other netizens supported Valkyrie’s dress code, saying the club has the right to enforce its own rules. Some even argued that the issue is about proper attire.
But advocates stressed business establishments should not discrminate customers based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression:
- Sexual orientation: To whom one is attracted to.
- Gender identity: How one identifies. A transwoman is someone whose assigned sex at birth is male, but identifies as a woman.
- Gender expression: How one dresses, talks, or speaks to express herself or himself. This does not necessarily reflect one’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This sad and discriminatory experience happens everyday. There are hundreds or perhaps thousands of other transpeople and gender non-conforming people out there who experience this everyday,” the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) said in a statement.
“Indeed we just want to dance, we just want to party and in the process, these establishments rake in the profits from what people label as ‘pink money.’ Can’t they be just grateful? Stand up with us. Join us in our efforts to stop these acts of hate,” it continued. – Rappler.com
June is #PrideMonth. Got stories to tell? Share them with firstname.lastname@example.org. Speak up on #GenderIssues!