Absence of care in a caring institution
AN OPEN LETTER OF A FILIPINA TRANSSEXUAL STUDENT
a. Name – I am known as Leo Moreno to my teachers and classmates but they respectfully call me with my preferred name, which is Rio.
b. Gender – I am treated as a girl in all my subjects and school activities
c. Physical Stature – I never encountered any issue for or against my physical being from teachers nor from co-students
d. Discipline – I am always conscious that as a student, I am abiding with all the policies of the school including my choice of uniform, since there is no provision or item in the school handbook that forbid or disallow transgender student to wear any particular uniform.
I was notified verbally to report to the Nursing Department's Dean's Office. Upon arrival at the Dean's Office, both Ms. Dumadag (Dean of Nursing) and Mr. Boquiron (Dean of the Office of Student's Affairs) immediately accused me of submitting fraudulent documents for admission to the school. Surprised by this accusation, I told them that all documents, including my birth certificate, were authentic and true. In the course of their insinuations and harsh words, they themselves verified that all my documents are indeed authentic and non-fraudulent.Not finding any other issue with my documents, Mr. Boquiron verbally required me to be identified as a boy and as such, I was required to wear a nursing student's uniform for boys to identify me as a boy and not as a girl. I tried to explain my condition and my identity as a transgender but to no avail, Mr. Boquiron would not consider such gender related talk but instead, insisted that I have to wear what is prescribed for boys/men or else I would be given disciplinary action.
I submitted the a letter (copy attached) to the President of the School, copy furnished Ms. Dumadag and Mr. Boquiron. This letter was received by Lorie, the Secretary of the President. I was advised by Ms. Lorie that she will give me a call when Mr. Campos, the President is available to see me.
I called up Ms. Lorie to follow up my request to talk to the President but again I was given the same reason that Mr. Campos is still busy. I explained to her that I have been absent from my classes for the past 2 weeks because the Security Guards would not allow me to go inside the campus using my blouse and skirt uniform (girl's uniform). However, Ms. Lorie ignored such explanation in a manner that made me feel that the President does not care about the issue.
JULY 28, 2008
I was accompanied to school by Ms Sass Rogando Sasot, a founding member of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), a non-profit organization. We went to talk to Mr. Boquiron, Office of Student Affairs dean, to clarify the issue and educate them about transsexualism.
Sass began by inquiring whether Mr Boquiron knew anything about transsexualism. Mr Boquiron admitted that he does not know anything about it since he is not a medical person.Mr. Boquiron and Sass then began talking about transsexualism. Sass explained what transsexualism is.
At no point did Mr. Boquiron considered Ms Sasot's explanation of what transsexualism is. He told us not to "force" what we like and that they were just following the rules of the school. Ms Sasot asked whether the school has a rule that transsexuals shall be treated according to their sex assignment at birth. Mr Boquiron said that since that my birth certificate says male, I shall be treated as male.
There had been an exchange of temper and raising of voices between the two of them. Mr Boquiron is not open to the reality that transsexualism is existent and that it is globally and medically recognized. He kept on addressing me as "he and him".
He kept on emphasizing that since the documents I submitted shows that my sex is Male, I should be treated as male. He stated that he is going by what shows on my records.
We were able to resolve the uniform issue. Mr. Boquiron agreed that I could wear the female uniform as long as I wear the pants.
However, Mr Boquiron remained indifferent and disturbingly apathetic when Ms Sasot was pointing out the medical fact that "forcing a transsexual person to live according to the norms of their sex assignment at birth would seriously damage their psychological well-being."
Mr Boquiron and his assistant Mr. Jimmy, said that it is already given that my psychological well being will be damaged.
Ms Sasot clarified their disturbing position of Mr Boquiron and Mr Jimmy about them not being concern about my psychological well-being.
Mr. Jimmy just replied "So?" and he also told Sass that what she was talking about was nonsense as my birth certificate says I'm "male".
This made Ms Sasot raise her voice again and expressed her disgust about a caring institution not caring about the psychological well being of its student. I myself was shocked how they reacted to Ms Sasot's question. This only means that they do not care about their student's psychological well being.
For now, I am going to continue to finish this semester. I will abide by their rules, I will wear an all white women's uniform (pants).
Nurses in the Philippines are exported to different first world countries. These countries, such as America and the U.K., are very open to this issue and they are educated on how to handle these issues. Gender identity is not a criteria to be accepted for school enrollment or employment. It is as long as you are competent and fit for the job.
Medical schools such as Emilio Aguinaldo College should learn the global standards in the medical field. It is a shame that those running this medical school are not only ignorant about these issues but do not show any concern at all to the psychological well being of their student. Their minds and spirits are also closed with this matter. They would rather remain faithful to the oppressive and outdated gender norms rather than show compassion and care.
The way Mr. Boquiron and his assistant Jimmy handled my concern made feel so unappreciated, undervalued, and disrespected.
As a future nurse, I will be encountering patients of all kinds. Understanding, respecting, and appreciating the diversity of patients is a must in the 21st century way of doing business and providing services. There's no better way for me to be able to understand and appreciate the diversity of humanity other than in my school, EAC, showing its respect, understanding, and appreciation of the diversity of its students. Do hospitals ask someone like me to dress in a man's clothing before they provide service? Obviously not.So making me wear men's uniform will surely not improve my psychological well-being, will not help EAC in fulfilling its mission statement, and will not help me appreciate, understand, and respect the diversity of my future patients.I like to be an instrument of change. This is enough.
My family and I would like to bring up this issue to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), to the Philippine Nurses Association, and to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights.
We appreciate any help from anybody who cares about the psychological well-being of transgender people. You may contact me through email: rioizphils@yahoo. com or through my mobile number: +63 906 520 5165.
Sincerely, Ms Rio MorenoMember, Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)