Fernando: Discrimination


DISCRIMINATION is a complex subject and I want to limit my context to the recent issue involving Gretchen Diez and Arwind Santos. These names may not be familiar to all but the important thing here is the issue and not the persons because we may find ourselves under these circumstances in the future. Gretchen Diez, a self-confessed trans woman, wanted to use the women’s bathroom in a mall in Quezon City but prevented by the establishment’s janitress.

On the other hand, while playing their PBA Commissioner’s Finals, Arwind Santos of the San Miguel Beer, on the bench, mimicked an ape gesture directed to the import of the opposing team, TNT Terrence Jones, accordingly, to get into his mind. These things did not escape the social media and discussions of discrimination became a trend these past weeks.

Discrimination is considered erroneous based on the concept of human dignity. It boils down to the proper treatment afforded to humankind because of the manner we were created. Human dignity is a religious and philosophical concept. Yet since not every human being adhere to this belief because of their religious and philosophical affiliation, many do not practice the teachings on human dignity and equal rights. The first issue is the racial discrimination, a highly sensitive issue especially for the black people who have endured for so many centuries the effect of discrimination against their race.

From the primitive era to civilization, slaves, mostly black people, are treated as property by affluent individuals and the treatment they suffer from this idea of slavery cannot be described by mere words. I am talking here of cruel, evil, wicked, and brutal treatment. To be fair, not all salves, black or other races, suffered injustices from their owners. For the black people and many advocates of human rights all over the globe, the subject of racism as one aspect of discrimination shall have no place today whether it is acted without malice.

Doing a monkey gesture is racism, therefore an act of discrimination because the person acting it is comparing the other to an ape, an animal perhaps in terms of physical features or intellectual capacity. Doing this is offensive because first, the comparison is not just and humane, and second which hurt the most, is bringing back the suffering memory of the black race which is too atrocious to imagine.

Of course, Arwind Santos has no intention to discriminate (I think). He may be innocent of racism but his ignorance could not save him from the backlash because being a professional player, he should have known the implication of the gesture. Last week, he was fined for 200 thousand peso by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) board. He was seen approaching and apologizing to Jones as they start their Finals’ game 6 last week.

On the other hand, Gretchen Diez and the whole LGBTQ+ community cry of discrimination because the prevention to use the women’s restroom is interpreted as rejection of their sexuality. Sensationalized! Yes. The main incident was, the trans woman wanted to use the women’s toilet but while she was in line, a janitress told her to step out and use the male’s restroom instead. She asked the janitress why she was not allowed to use the women’s restroom, taking a video at the same time. This made the janitress furious.

Accordingly, the trans woman was “dragged” to the security office to have her arrested. She was detained by cops, cuffed and shamed. (I got this detail from article online). “Dragged” I think is used when a person uses force to bring one person to another place. There is force because the other person is fighting against the force.

Now on the issue on discrimination, was she really being discriminated when she was asked to step out from the line and advised to use the other restroom? There is discrimination when we treat someone or a group differently from the rest of the group they properly belong. We do not put them in the same level of the group. In short, we isolate them and as a result treat them differently. The janitress in asking a trans woman to use the men’s restroom, for me, is not discriminating.

I agree with a celebrity who commented that the issue was not discrimination but propriety. The cuffing and dragging are abusive but it’s not because of discrimination. The janitress only overstepped when she used force in taking Diez to the security room. That’s her losing her emotional control. She could have explained that in that mall those who have male genitalia are required to use the male’s restroom. We do not have a law yet to provide restroom for LBGTQ+ in all establishments so the policy on restroom usage is left on the management or administration.

LGBTQ+ has been fighting for their acceptance in the society. They have suffered discrimination and it hurts them. For a member to experience a sort of discrimination is surely infuriating but let us not jump to the conclusion of discrimination right away because it may be not. We will have various problems when we allow men dressed as women to use the women’s bathroom. Privacy and security are two concerns. A person can claim she is a trans woman but there are flaws in there.

In that situation, on which restroom to be used, what’s the best basis in deciding where Diez should go in? Her dress, manner of speaking, and actuation or her genitalia? In a survey on LGBTQ+ acceptance, the country ranks 10 among countries. This only shows our robust acceptance to the LGBTQ+ community. Many people are not educated about the third gender and many are still traditional about sexual orientation, but this country promotes and supports the gay community.

These two incidents, I presume, give us enough lessons about discrimination. It is better to be informed to save our ignorance on social issues. Simple gestures and actuations can be interpreted as discriminations. The victim on the second incident is not only Gretchen Diez, more so, on the janitress who have now lost her job in trying to do what she thinks her job. The problem is that we are not clear on our policies or laws on LGBTQ+ concerns. But the LGBTQ+ community should know that this country accepts who and what they are. In treating people, we think of human dignity. We think of respect.


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