PH military may soon have its 1st transgender officer

MANILA, Philippines – The country's first transgender politician may also become its first transgender military officer.

Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman has expressed intent to join the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reserve corps. And the military welcomed it, although what uniform Roman will be wearing – should she pursue her plan – will be an issue.

Roman has taken to Congress the fight against the discrimination of the LGBT community. Her application as reserve officer was prompted by a military statement welcoming applications of LGBTs as the government seeks to recruit 10,000 more soldiers to its ranks.

"I will be applying to become a military officer in the AFP Reserve to become the first transgender military officer of the Philippine Republic. This will complement their appreciation for the LGBT community for they will see that we can exemplify the same sense of discipline, the same military professionalism, and the same love of country that the current men and women in uniform embody," Roman said in a statement on Valentine's Day. 

The military's public affairs office chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, said Roman's application will be valued by the institution that he said promotes a culture that does not discriminate with respect to gender. 

"The AFP welcomes the express interest of Representative Roman. We highly value the patriotism of our citizens and will work to cultivate this. She will be a welcome addition to the Reservists Force.... We do not discriminate with respect to gender. Our Gender and Development Program guarantees that," Arevalo said. 

But he added that applicants have to follow strict rules in the military or "they have no room in this noble profession of arms."

"We admonish them to maintain the dignity of the uniform; observe discipline, propriety and decorum; and measure up to the steep standards of the service," Arevalo said. 

The uniform will be an issue. Roman intends to wear a female officer's uniform, of course.

"I just hope that they are aware that as a transgender woman, I will be wearing a military woman's uniform and haircut," said Roman.

But Arevalo said the military will have to follow the gender of the applicants based on their Certificates of Live Birth

"Admittedly, this is the first time that we have that situation concerning a prospective applicant. We have to go by the gender in the Certificate of Live Birth," he noted. 

Many politicians have joined the AFP reserve corps, among them senators Manny Pacquiao and Loren Legarda, and Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto. –