MANILA, Philippines – Aside from winning medals in Surf in the City competition, surfer Florentino Gubaton III or ‘Dods Taylor’ wants more LGBTQ+ and trans athletes join the sport.
Gubaton is a trans woman, who is competing in a national surfing tournament for the first time. She introduces herself as “Siargao’s Island Princess”, and she is advocating for better LGBTQ+ representation, especially for the trans community, in the surfing industry.
“Gusto ko po may makilala na LGBTQ+ representation sa surfing industry. Kasi marami namang sumusuporta sa akin. This is also good para may marecognize na may surfer na proud trans,” Gubaton said.
(I want to see more LGBTQ+ representation in surfing. Many people support me. This competition is a good avenue for people to recognize that there is a surfer who is proudly transgender.)
Gubaton experienced discrimination for her gender. But with the support of the Siargao surfing community, she gained confidence to be proud of the community she is representing.
“Kapag may discrimination, dedma! Laban lang! Sa lugar namin meron naman talaga discrimination, kasi nag crocross dress ako. Pero tumatagal dedma na sila, and they showed their support to me. Nasanay na at naging proud sila sa’kin,” she added.
(When I face discrimination, I don’t pay attention. I just continue fighting. Where I come from, there’s really discrimination, especially because I cross-dress. But eventually, they stopped discriminating me and started supporting me. They got used to it and they became proud of me.)
The 22-year-old Siargao native started conquering waves when she was 12 years old. She constantly surfed with her peers to find a sense of belongingness.
“Lahat sila nag lalaro so ako rin naglaro rin. Ngayon nag susurfing ako for my own [enjoyment],” Gubaton said. (All my friends surfed so I just joined. But now I surf for my own enjoyment.)
Gubaton quit surfing for a couple of years after she was wiped out by succeeding waves in one of her exhibitions. The experience traumatized her until she went back to surfing in Grade 11. She was also inspired by Elise Trigger, a surfer from Australia.
“As a woman, kumukuha talaga siya ng malalaking alon and na-shock ako. I was inspired because she is a woman and kaya niya. Kaya ginagaya ko na din,” said Gubaton.
(As a woman, she really rides big waves and that shocked me. I was inspired because even if she is a woman, she can do it. I try to imitate her.)
According to Surf in the City Chair Rupert Ambil, the competition welcomes athletes from all walks of life.
“Dods is an example of how surfing can bring everyone together. Everyone is welcome to join the sport. We want to be more inclusive and supportive of all communities,” Ambil added.
As Gubaton competes in the 2021 Surf in the City, she hopes to wave the pride flag high to encourage her community to join the sport. – Rappler.com