Entry #03312012: Climax of my 21.xx year life

I was a participant to this Public Speaking and Writing Seminar last Mar. 30-Apr. 1, 2012. It was fun; I learned a lot and met lots of new friends. Many months after that fun long weekend, I barely remember what we exactly did during the seminar until I stumbled into this:

 That one point after which, I was never the same person.

I was cleaning my room when I found the old notebook we were given at the seminar. One of the exercises we had was to write, in 5 minutes or so, the “climax of our life.” And so I went to write:

It was the summer of 2009, I was reading randomly on the Internet when all of a sudden, I came about the subject of transsexualism. I researched and read more about this and soon enough, I realized that I was in fact, a transsexual woman and not a gay man. A few more months have passed and I was still learning a lot about the topic. (I even came to a transsexual dating chat site where I would meet my boyfriend of almost 2 years). By October, I attended my first STRAP support group meeting. I felt inferior, ugly, and totally like a guy. With these thoughts running through my mind, at exactly Nov. 1, 2009, right after my 2nd STRAP SGM, I started my journey to transition.

I will never forget this moment. It was at this time in my life when I took what will most probably be the sharpest curve of my life, and steered myself into a totally different direction; one where I am myself. I’ve never really shared this out loud or in public with anyone. That time at the seminar made me think of pushing my boundaries and opening myself up to people, to possibilities. Life has never been the same. And when you come to think of it, it really shouldn’t be.

L-G-B-T getting J-O-B-S

I just saw this post from the Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines (STRAP) Facebook group page:

We all know it, getting a job right now is already hard as it is. Sure, you can always just apply at some random place and get a job but of course it’s not all about that. You need to think of whether you actually would like the job in the first place, if you’re qualified for it, if you think you would enjoy it, and if you think it’s something you can start a career from, etc.  Now, things get much more complicated if you’re a part of the LGBT community, especially so in this country. We don’t exactly have the legislative protection from employment discrimination and even then, employers can just say you weren’t qualified for the job in the first place, even if you were.

For the L, G, and B people, it’s hard. But imagine what it’s like for the transmen/women who are looking for jobs. Like that post above for instance. Especially when you’re already in the middle of transition. The thing is, whether or not your lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, cisgender, or transgender, it shouldn’t even matter. We don’t work with our penis/vagina do we? But of course, we all know that for some, if not most people, it still very much is an issue.

When I graduated a year ago, I was still very much in bum mode. Not only that, I was also clueless and direction-less as to what I wanted to do next. Do you know how it feels when you have plans and all of a sudden, you discover that those plans no longer fit you? Well, that’s what happened to me. From the time I graduated til the time I got my first job at Greenpeace (a timespan of 4 months), I have been to 4 interviews, counting the Greenpeace interview. It’s not a lot, I know I didn’t look for much but of those interviews, 1 interviewer asked me if I was male or female (of which I answered I’m biologically male but identify as female), 1 conducted a 10 minute interview on me and never called back, and 1 panel of interviewees (for a research analyst position and upon seeing my resume) insisted I probably would not like working for them. Eventually, I did get the Greenpeace job and it was great. I worked for four months and I quit last June for reasons I am not willing to blog about. From the second week of June until today, I have been jobless. During that time until now, I have only been to one serious interview and I didn’t get the job (for some unknown reason).

Given that much interviews though, one can’t really infer that I got rejected based on my gender expression. But the thing is, one of the reasons why I haven’t gone to interviews that much in the first place, is that fear of rejection. I just can’t bear to know and be really sure, that I got rejected for a job post simply because I was a transwoman. I have been to some interviews and I know I’m very very much fortunate enough not to have some “incidents” happen to me, but it just freaks me out that those employers might be having some other thoughts at the back of their heads. Paranoid much? My mom doesn’t seem to think so. She tells me it’s one of the reasons why I’m still jobless. She tells me that the mere fact I’m trans automatically signals a red flag to employers out there not to hire me. And it sucks. My mom is all ok with the trans thing but evidently, not as 100% ok as I am. We even fight because of it; me insisting that me being trans is not the cause of the issue, and her insisting that it is. She’d go on saying, “Oh, don’t dress up too much.” or “Don’t wear makeup.” And I’d go thinking.. WTF!? Does my mom think I go in drag to interviews or something? Is that really how she sees me, just because I’m trans? It’s just frustrating. VERY frustrating.

The main point is, it scares me. And it’s unfair. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. No one should. Everytime I go out to an interview, I always have that worry that me being trans will be an issue when it actually shouldn’t. Why should it? It’s sad. I preach about LGBT empowerment and all that when in fact, I can’t even empower myself at times. No one should be feeling like this. I’m trans. Just like someone has blue eyes or curly hair, it’s just one part of me, along with many others that define who I am. I am a person who happens to be trans. Not a transwoman who happens to be a person.

She

I came cross this video on Facebook. It’s a “documentary” on transwomen featuring no other than Ms. Adri Pangilinan, a member of the Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines (STRAP).

I must say that I am very much in awe how all of STRAP’s ladies always present themselves with great elegance and poise, and Adri is no exception. She explained the topic of transsexualism very well and I think it’s a good reference for those who are wondering, or simply curious about transsexualism. I’m actually also very pleased that they added another perspective in this video which is that from Adri’s boyfriend, Colin. All in all, I thought that it was a very good “documentary” clip and *minor* video production issues aside (advertising graduate here), it delivered on it’s main purpose: to answer many questions most people have on transsexualism, and even bring to light those things that most people are not even aware of about it. I hope I can either be a part of or, hopefully soon, make a video as enlightening and insightful as this one. So for all of you who have no idea what transsexualism is, or someone who is aware about it but remains confused, please go ahead and watch this video. It’s 17 minutes that will definitely be well-spent.

Lost in Identification

Last night, I got an email from a Facebook post from one of many NGO groups (STRAP) I belong to. It said there was this 27 year old transwoman from Zamboanga who died from complications due to Hepatitis B, which later on caused her kidney cancer. Her body was put, and still remains, in the hospital morgue. Now the caveat is (yes, there still is one), the girl has no known family members in Manila or well, basically no one knows where her family is. She ran away from home when she was 14 or 15 and now she’s dead. 3 days in a morgue, with no one to claim her body and have her buried. I simply dismissed it thinking, “What can I do?” and went on with what I was doing and went to bed.

In the morning when I woke up, I saw the Facebook post has gotten a few more replies and it was then that I saw things were even worse than I had thought. The people at the hospital advised my friend not to take her out in case the family does appear and claims the body. If that happens, they might get in serious trouble for burying their friend without her family knowing. Now I didn’t know this but apparently, morgues (or maybe just that one in particular) hold onto the dead bodies they have for 60 days and after which, they couldn’t care less what happens to them. That’s how long my friend has to wait to be able to bury her friend without any consequences and that’s a very long time. I can already imagine the body being a bit decomposed and well.. It’s not really pretty as we all know. ANOTHER thing is the girl doesn’t have any IDs and her birth certificate is also missing. She doesn’t have anything to prove her identity. All she ever owned or had was a small suitcase full of clothes, makeup, a flat iron, and a curling iron. We have all suggested many things from raiding her phone (which wasn’t of much help since she ran away when she was 14/15), looking through her documents (she had none), to asking or contacting someone from Zamboanga who might be able to help. My friend is currently trying to do all that she can right now and we are all trying to help her too but it just made me think.

What if I was in a situation like that? What if I suddenly died and no one knew where my family members were and no one knew of my identity? What would that be like? It’s just sad when I think about it. Morbid even. But I just can’t help but think if I were in that person’s situation. It must be very hard, and scary. I can’t imagine myself in a situation like that. I refuse to. It’s something I wouldn’t want to happen to anyone. I can only imagine.

I hope sooner or later that we find the family. I’m trying to help out because I don’t want anyone to be put in that situation. I just don’t.