Friday, January 15, 2010

Transpinays: "Accept us for who we are"

Before, they used to hide their gender identities from everyone, including their fathers, fearing ridicule and avoiding corporal punishment. Most of them, at an early age (5 yo), felt they were girls.

In the November 30 (last year) episode of  GMA 7’s public affairs TV show I-Witness, Kristine Madrigal - a transsexual - was featured where she openly talked about the difficulties she faced from childhood. Homophobia/transphobia, discrimination in the workplace, all resulting from society's deep-seated prejudice against those who are not “straight” and the flawed judgements of some people in Government.

Interviewed (but) briefly in the program was clinical psychologist Brenda R. Alegre who expressed her frustration over the lack of job opportunities for transsexuals despite their talents and academic qualifications. She deplored the fact that because of this, many transsexuals end up as entertainers and go to Japan and Thailand.

Brenda, who is finishing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, authored the first graduate study on transgenderism because she wanted the public to understand a gender that has always been misunderstood and misrepresented.

Her study, “Psychological Perspectives and Development of the Transsexual Woman: A Phenomenological Case Study on Male to Female Filipino Transsexuals”, is about Filipino transsexual women (or Transpinays) and the difference between them and gays. Brenda is a Transpinay.

Completed in 2005, she is using her thesis as the cornerstone for working up her advocacy in making this society learn to accept them and be given equal treatment like everyone else. Backing her up is STRAP (Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines), a transgender rights information and support group for male to female (M2F) transsexuals.

The Transpinays are seeking cooperation from all sectors in eliminating discrimination against them, which Brenda says is achievable if:

-    School authorities include transgenderism in the curriculum in primary and secondary levels
-    Health and medical sciences develop standardized measures on gender identity (femininity vs. masculinity vs. androgyny) and recommend healthy management procedures on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), genital reassignment surgery and facial feminization surgery (FFS)
-    Social workers provide the right counseling and job placements for them
-    Government creates gender fair and compassionate laws that will include transsexuals

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections to recognize Ang Ladlad as a party-list group. Last November, the Comelec denied Ang Ladlad’s petition to be accredited as a party-list group to run in the May (2010)  national elections on “moral grounds”. Ang Ladlad represents the LGBT community.

It is hoped that the SC directive is a step forward towards respecting transgenders.  It may not have occurred yet to some government officials that the way to bring about positive change is toss our prejudices in the dustbin.

Hooray, Transpinays and LGBTs.

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