Gretchen Diez: 'God is love. Love does not hate, love accepts.'

MANILA, Philippines – For transgender woman Gretchen Custodio Diez, faith is simple – it is love.

"I consider myself as a Christian but I am baptized as a Catholic. I don't really believe in religion, but I believe in God, and I believe that the God that I have is the God of love. And love does not keep record of wrong. Love does not hate, love accepts," Diez said in a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday, August 15.

Diez has gained prominence overnight after she was prevented by a janitress on Tuesday, August 13, from using the women's bathroom in a Cubao mall, then arrested for recording the discrimination.

Diez's documentation went viral on social media. This triggered a public outcry that pushed the mall's janitress to drop her case against Diez.

But while Diez's experience has fueled support, it also pulled in hostility from conservative Filipinos. (READ: LGBTQ activists: We are tolerated but not accepted in the Philippines)

"If other people tell me that God did not create us because he only created man and woman, I answer, no. You cannot limit the power of God's creation to only men and women. God is someone that you can never explain," Diez said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Call for acceptance

Diez then called for the public to be more accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community.

She said that the rejection of queer people comes from misunderstanding, so their best way to be more empathetic is through learning.

"We just need to have an open mind... It wouldn't hurt if you get educated," Diez said.

The lack of awareness of Filipinos was put on display on Wednesday, August 14, when male senators were puzzled by SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression).

In the hearing, Senate President Vicente Sotto III complained about more gender identifications getting added to LGBTQ+. He asked: "Why that lengthy letters? Why not just Homo sapiens? We’re all the same." –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.