PRIDE. This month, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities around the world celebrate Pride Month which culminates in LGBT Pride Marches. The march traces its roots in New York City in June 1969 when LGBT people protested the violent raid by the police on the gay bar Stonewall Inn. The march is organized annually in different places around the world to call for equal rights, protection from discrimination and respect for diversity.
PREJUDICE. This month, Trixie Maristela, a transgender woman was barred from entering Valkyrie, a high end night club in Taguig City. The staff at the door said she does not conform to the club's dress code and that she was not in proper attire because she is wearing women's clothes. Trixie, a graduate of UP Diliman and grand winner of Eat Bulaga's Super Sireyna contest, was told that she should be wearing men's clothes. Trixie was with her sister and long-time boyfriend that evening.
PRIDE. Trixie took to social media her experience of discrimination by sharing the story in her Facebook page moments after it happened. Instead of just keeping quiet and being ashamed of the incident, she made it public. It takes great courage and pride to speak of one's experience of discrimination. She did not play victim. In sharing her narrative, she fought back. Her story was picked up by media which solicited positive reactions and statements of support. Various groups and personalities are now demanding an apology from the club's management and are asking them to rectify their discriminatory policies.
PREJUDICE. Someone on Twitter said that the issue "is just about a policy and not discrimination". General Comment No. 20 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Economic Rights explicitly pointed out that policies or practices which appear neutral at face value, but have a disproportionate impact on the exercise of rights is discrimination. Imposing a no cross-dressing rule on a transgender person is extremely unjust because it is tantamount to a refusal to recognize the person's gender identity and gender expression.
PRIDE. There is an inherent power in speaking up about one's lived experiences because it leads to greater awareness. Trixie's story has initiated conversations on issues on sexual orientation, gender identities and expression. These conversations hopefully will bring awareness on the issues of transgender people and why it is extremely unjust to require transgender women to dress like a man just because their assigned sex at birth is male. Transgender women are women. That is their gender identity. Identity and expression are a matter of personal preference determined by the individual and no club, person or group has the right to deny that.
Trixie's experience is part of the bigger narrative of discrimination. LGBT people young and old have long suffered discrimination in our society--in their families, communities, schools, establishments and workplaces. This is the primary motivation for the unwavering support of the National Youth Commission for the immediate passage of a national law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
If Valkyrie is in San Julian, a fifth class municipality in Eastern Samar or Quezon City in Metro Manila or any of the 12 provinces, cities and municipalities where there is an anti-discrimination ordinance, the management can easily be held liable for discriminating against LGBTs. This should be the rule rather than the exception.
For more on the Valkyrie incident, please see the statementof UPBabaylan, Trixie's LGBT organization in U.P. Diliman, at www.facebook.com/upbabaylan.