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Not about toilets

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OF LATE, Vice Ganda proposed a separate toilet for gays and trans in her daily noontime show. Like all things Vice Ganda say, we can take it seriously, laugh at it or both. The assumption is that a separate toilet will cancel the awkwardness between and among genders while doing the most natural things in the world. Assumedly, the proposal is directed towards government authorities. Or perhaps, to mall owners, if not to all of us. The proposal was drawn out of the now national issue of a manhandling of a transwoman Gretchen Custodio Diez by a female cleaner Chayra Ganal of Farmer Plaza Mall out of a women’s toilet.

Ms. Diez was not only physically ferried out of the rest room, but she was verbally abused not only by the cleaner but by almost all the entire staff of the mall security and management. Ms Diez, as seen from her own cellphone documentation of the incident, was even physically assaulted by Ganal . To make the incident even more degrading to Ms. Diez, or so the mall security thought, Ms. Diez was brought to a hospital, handcuff ed for public display and humiliation, and then off she was brought to a police station like what would you do to any criminal.

The problem was that Ms. Diez was no criminal. She is very much an educated woman who deeply understood her rights. All throughout her humiliating ordeal, and even after, she kept her composure. She was tense, frightened at many times, but she was clearminded and we sense that her life-long list of pains and agony in simply using the rest room has already reached the point of exhaustion. All throughout her humiliating ordeal, and even after, Ms. Diez was not only pulverizing the wall-of-Jericho discrimination, but she was shining lights into this dark, dark space of human rights violations that is regularly experienced by most if not all LGBTQIA+ community, and especially the trans people. She was and is, along with an army of friends and allies, “educating” this nation.

Perhaps, it is not much to conjure, if only to remind us, of a similar incident and image that happened to Ms. Rosa Parks of the US black civil rights movements, where authorities forcibly wanting to budge Ms. Parks out of a “White” bus because she was colored. Ms. Parks vehemently refused and stood her grounds. And the rest, as what we knew it, shines brilliantly into the history of the American civil rights movements. Ms. Diez is not far behind, and even more. Ms. Diez knew that she was not only fighting for a right to pee, she was against the mammoth wall of discrimination born out of ignorance.

This same ignorance is the very core why the rights of the trans community and the rest of the LGBQIA+ are trampled upon, shrugged off , swept away, even made fun of. This same ignorance Ms. Diez knew infects not only the many Ganals, but also, as we recently witnessed, the very highest halls of this nation, as seen in the recent Senate hearings. We can forgive the Ganals of our universe, as they themselves are victims of the poor training and education of their employees (Remember, right after the harrowing incident, the mall management immediately distanced themselves from Ganal), but it certainly raises high blood pressure to witness the esteemed lawmakers of the land still wallowing in utter ignorance, and lacking any depth of understanding.

Take for example the Senate President Tito Sotto’s supposed suggestion, innocently thrown, almost jokingly delivered, no significant difference in his noon time television show, of using to what he believes to be an allencompassing term “homo sapiens” instead, to refer to the LGBTQIA+ titles and nomenclatures. Senator Risa Honteveros had to seriously struggle explaining the really basics of the whats and whys of this marginalized community. Questions of Senators Ping Lacson and Migs Zubiri are no better.

But the most ignoramus statement of all came from Senator Bato dela Rosa who noted that the Senate SOGIE Bill cannot guarantee men dressing up as women so they can harass women. Apart from this suggestion has eternally been in the “barbero kwentuhan,” the scenario remains to be in the remotest possibility and there is no verifiable evidence at all. Besides, the supposed male maniacs that the esteemed senator are referring to will harass women without needing to dress up as one. Now, we are wondering, aren’t senators supposed to prepare with data and information or at least should have been prepared or briefed before any senate hearings begin so they don’t look stupid? And the depth issue is another matter.

Considering what already transpired, indeed, there is a need to constantly demand conversations with the LGBTQIA+ community if only we want to have a clear, human and humane narrative of their lived experiences at the same time be able to intersect these narratives with the rest of humanity. There are also so many programs on gender sensitivity and awareness for all the Ganals in the world if only people in authorities bother to care. At the same time, push for the continuing use of scientific evidences in the education of the larger community, most specifically in schools, including and not exempting lawmakers, in the burgeoning discourse of sexuality, orientation, gender and identity.

But Kendall, seriously, we can start by passing the SOGIE bill.

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