A 17-YEAR-OLD transgender student in Tacloban City has expressed hope that more schools in the country will conform to the gender-friendly wearing of uniforms after she was allowed to wear a uniform of her choice.

“The adoption of gender-neutral uniforms must be one of the significant and positive steps toward a compassionate society. We should always remember that forcing clothes on children or students won't make a school better, but a uniform combined with reforms can,” said Sessy Maravillo, a Grade 12 student of the Leyte National High School in Tacloban.

“Because I do believe that if our society wants to practice inclusivity, therefore our society must allow the freedom of choice,” she added.

Maravillo, who became an overnight sensation after posting photos of her wearing a female uniform on social media, maintained that giving freedom to transgenders to choose a uniform will “help amplify gender acceptance in our society...and build strong confidence within them."

“Making our brothers and sisters in land feel safe is not enough, we should also make them feel comfortable. Therefore, I strongly support wearing school uniform according to the student choice or gender and hear the voices of those trans out there seeking for comfort,” she wrote.

While Maravillo earned admiration from many netizens, some sectors have also come forward to assail her actions.

“As Social Conservatives, we believe that freedom is not absolute and there will always be limitations to such rights in order to preserve order in the human civilization,” said the Philippine Social Conservative Movement.

“We respect your preference to express yourself as a woman and your attraction to the same-sex. However, we do not agree with your actions, especially its would-be long-term effects to society,” said the group, which identified itself as a community of Filipino people advocating the ideology of social conservativism.

In an open letter to Maravillo dated September 23, 2022, the group said the transgender student “had opened a ‘pandora's box' that will cause confusion to our human civilization.”

“While your intention seems to be good and your aspiration seems to be innocent, however, its effects will be far more damaging in the future. Later on, perverts will take this as an excuse to dress in a manner that will allow them to intrude upon the safety of their victims, i.e., Female Comfort Room, All-Girl's School, etc,” the group said.

“Our actions have consequences, and certain rules can't be broken as it will lead to confusion, disillusionment of femininity and masculinity, delusional entitlement, tribalism by identity politics and the perversion of meaning itself,” it added.

In 2017, the Department of Education (DepEd) released an order on “Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy” that integrates “the principles of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination and human rights” in both elementary and high schools in the Philippines.

Known as DepEd Order No. 32 s. 2017, the policy “seeks to enable the DepEd to undertake gender-mainstreaming in education to address both enduring and emerging gender and sexuality-oriented issues in basic education, to promote the protection of children from all forms of gender-related violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination, and bullying, and to promote gender equality and non-discrimination in the workplace and within the DepEd.” (SunStar Philippines)