Friday, August 8, 2008

T community meeting

On July 25, 2008, a Friday, The Library Foundation Sexuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective (TLF SHARE Collective) held an “exploratory discussion” among members of the transgender community at Chopstick Restaurant in Cubao, Quezon City. In attendance were people representing Laguna, Marikina, and Manila. The meeting was meant for those present to talk about their “life situations, sexual health and rights concerns.” I was there and the coordinator of the event, Shane, asked me to give a “trigger” presentation about my life story. Of course, I was more than willing to oblige.

After me, each participant was asked to react to anything I said that struck a chord with them. I started my story when I was very young. As far as I could remember, I always felt a certain difference about me compared to kids my age, a feeling like something was missing, a feeling of being incomplete. When I was 6 years old I remember feeling so jealous of my sister. It was her birthday and my mother had a dress made for her. The dress was simple and made of ruffles. It had tiers of cloth that moved from the lightest to the darkest pink. Just one look and I knew I wanted to wear it. One afternoon while my sister was away in school and my mother was downstairs in the living room watching TV, I snatched the dress from where it was hanging and giddily put it on. When I saw myself in it, immediately I was awash in pure joy. I was ecstatic. I thought I was the prettiest girl in the world.

So naturally I just had to show off. I crept downstairs and jumped in front of the TV. I thought Mama was going to be happy to see me. Of course I was wrong. She started screaming at me, yelling for me to take the dress off. At first I didn’t understand her anger. She grabbed a soft broom and started hitting me. Only then did I become afraid and begin to cry. From then on, I knew better. And until I was in college I did not once act on that feeling. Until now, long after I have reconciled with the person I know I must be I can still remember how it feels. It feels like something is not right, like you are unhinged, empty, missing out, lost, uncertain, unprepared, inadequate, undone, unremarkable, pathetic, dirty, a loser, unlovable, in the dark, ugly. It’s not a good feeling. Imagine having to carry it for almost 20 years.

That is why I was very happy about this meeting that TLF initiated. It’s always good to meet people you have something in common with, people who are like you somehow, who went through some of the same things that you did. It makes you feel you are part of a community—one that values your story, who you are, where you came from. And if it is a community that listens, that cares, that welcomes you, accepts you, loves you, it makes you feel that you are not alone.

This is just a first and there will be more meetings to come. I told the group that came last Friday that hopefully in the next meeting each of us could bring another person, a friend, a member of our community. So if you know someone transgender who would like to attend that meeting please pass this along. You never know. Maybe you will help that person feel, finally, that he/she belongs. :)

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