Transgendered Santacruzan / by John Javellana

Some of my good friends are have already begun to describe my blog as a drama-rama one. They’re right, it has been.. About time I start writing something else in it already. Last week I was assigned to shoot a transgendered Santacruzan over at Quezon City. What’s so special about it? A lot - both personally and for anybody getting to read this.

One cannot deny the fact that transgendered individuals here in the Philippines are subjected to enormous discrimination. Yes, they enjoy a lot of acceptance as well but majority still fall under the bad side of prejudice. I, for one, is somebody who didn’t like the thought of gay people existing in this world (well except for hot lesbians). A harsh fact about me but that mentality was brought about bad experiences with transgendered men from different places from the campus to the saunas in gyms. And no, I wasn’t raped or anything, but believe me, it would’ve gone there. That’s why I don’t think I can be blamed for generalizing them as such given all the negative experiences. So I must admit that I was sort of a homophobic as I was on my way to the location.

As I got there, I just wanted to get good photos and not even bother talking to them as thoughts of negativity regarding transgendered individuals permeate my rationality. I went around the room as if I was just some photographer wanting to get the job done, not even acknowledging the smiles, the greetings and the occasional flirting from the participants. But as my friend Juan started to talk to some of them, I overheard an interesting topic from their conversation. And it had something to do with the church strongly opposing what they are doing.

The particular event is called “Flores de Mayo”. It i a local festival celebrated during the month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary that usually has women as participants, making the transgendered go against tradition by being the ones to culminate the event.
As i got into the conversation, I saw that they were simply fighting for what they believed in. Being the predominant Catholic country that we are, the church was making it seem as if it was taboo to do so. And I found it to be very unfair. Unjust even.

The conversation went on as heavy rains postponed the start of the event. I eventually eased up and asked so many questions like how much they spent on to look the way they do; why they chose to be the way they are; all the types of discrimination they experience and even how far they’ve gone in terms of sugery. They were very interesting and substancial individuals and for once in my life, I wasn’t afraid of them. Some spent fifty thousand pesos just on breast implants alone. And it doesn’t end there. There’s still the nose job, the chin adjustment; arms; lips - a lot. They say that they chose to be that way because it is who they are and that’s how they feel they should live - as women who are incarcerated inside bodies of men. And they do get a lot of shit for living and fighting for it. From endless ridcules to being actually beaten up by their own fathers who cannot accept the fact, it’s a tough life.

Despite all this, they all go on with smiles. Applying make-up every now and then to look their best; coming in with their best possible dresses. They were so meticulous about there looks. I guess these events bring a lot of joy and bliss for them. And I admire them a lot for doing so.

I went home that night a refreshed person who learned a lot. Refreshed because my irrational fear for the transgendered was given new light. Their stories made me want to be an advocate of their cause. Transgendered individuals have a right to live any kind of life that they want. We all do, as long as we are not stepping on other people’s feet. Convictions like these make you want to say “fuck all the stupid norms and rules, just live life”. Malice set aside, they are all beautiful people. Beautiful people who have every right to walk this land as much as you and I. Even the the head of the Catholic church.