Queer Silver, Membership Committee
Dee Mendoza, Marketing Officer
Naomi, Public Relations Officer
Every year the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community take to the streets for Pride March for two reasons: to continue rallying for their human rights of and to celebrate LGBT life and culture. The Philippines has the distinction of holding the first ever Pride March in Asia back in 1994.
Dee, is also co-founder of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), talks about the reason why she walks in Pride marches. “When I first started to manifest my real gender expression, I was fired from my job and in my desperation to find another I applied for those that were way below my qualifications. Sometimes, I would be told to my face. “Okay lang ang mga bading, pero hindi yun mga tulad mo.”.
Her academic credentials and professional experience as a manager were overshadowed by the disparity between the gender on her birth certificate and the gender she chose to express. Lucky for Dee, she found an equal opportunity employer whom she has been with for the last 6 years. “Society stereotypes us as entertainer, salons personnel, comedienne or prostitutes. There is nothing wrong with these professions,” Dee says, “I just dream of a different one like the rest of the people do.”
Naomi concurs with this, “When you decide to change something that people think is fundamentally immutable, like gender, you trouble their sense of certainty and stability. Quietly or blatantly, they will resent you for it; or worse they will punish you for it. It is this policing and punishing because of gender expression that marginalizes people like me. Years of discrimination impair our sense of self-worth, many of us agree to this convenient arrangement — us in the margins, the rest of society living a good life.”
Emphasizing the importance of Pride Marches, Naomi says, “Thankfully, many people like me are beginning to fight back and are demanding to be treated with equal dignity.”
Queersilver speaks about the discrimination she faces and which she, as a member of Lesbian Advocates of the Philippines, advocates. “We lesbians are a double minority – we’re women and we’re lesbians.”, says Queersilver who stresses that that this one reason why lesbians are often overlooked when it comes to HIV/AIDS intervention programs. “The WSW (Women who have sex with Women) may be a lot incident group, but we nonetheless, should have access to adequate and proper information about how to protect ourselves.”