Monday, April 12, 2010

Anti-trans violence

Below is a letter that a STRAP member wrote to our e-group detailing her violent brush with street vagrants while she was out with her boyfriend. The incident did not result in a physical scuffle and yet it was as callous psychologically. The vitriol to which our STRAP girl was subjected was uncalled for and extremely humiliating. I am glad that she spoke up but share her sentiments on how to handle the same situation.

I post it below as I try to think about the many laws that protect women in my country from violence. While such laws recognize that violence can be of the physical, sexual and psychological kind and uphold ideas of gender equality and equity, I wonder if they will actually give refuge to transwomen. Perhaps it can be argued but I fear that the debate might lead to what kind of genitalia one has or what sex one was assigned when one was born.

In the mean time, transwomen are dying at faster and faster rates. Just recently I heard news of a transwoman strangled to death in her own home in New York. In Mexico, transwomen are being targeted for decapitation. The inhumanity of it all is just insufferable. I hope that those who are advocating for women’s rights will truly fight for the liberation of all the victims of the cruelty and brutality of the patriarchy.

Dear Angels,

I would like to share what happened to me just a few minutes ago. I hope you girls would be able to know what to do next if this situation ever occurred to you.

I was walking with my boyfriend Luke to the nearest 7/11 to buy some ice cream (around 1:30 am, Monday, 5 April 2010). It was a very peaceful night that there would be no possibility of a fight or something bad happening. Little did we know that someone from the streets would call me out. A guy screamed the "LB" (ladyboy) word.

There were two of them: the first one was aggressive but the other one said some awful words. Luke came up to the guy and asked if he was talking about him. Then the guy pointed at me and said that I'm the person he was talking about. I was surprised that he would be honest about it because the people that we go back to and ask what they said would just deny everything and say that they didn't say anything. Luke pointed at me and told him that I'm his wife. The guy said "You know that your wife is a boy" and he just kept insisting that I was a boy and no matter what I say I will still have a "lawit" (Filipino slang phrase for penis).

Then I went ballistic and lashed out on the guy. I was so angry and said some degrading things to put him in his place. It was a critical situation for us because the guy was kind of going after us and looking for something on the ground, maybe something to throw or some broken glass he could stab us with. After that we just left and decided to still go to the 7/11. We decided to cool down at this waiting shed and decided to talk about what happened. Luke told me that the guy was a drug dealer. After that I paused and told him I suddenly got scared. I even suggested to tip him off to the cops roaming around but Luke decided that he would just go back and talk to them just for the sake of our safety whenever our paths crossed. He made me wait at the apartment lobby and it was the 10 most terrifying minutes of my life. I was so paranoid.

After 10 minutes, Luke came back to me and he told me that those guys wouldn't do anything to us. Luke told the two guys that he knew how difficult life in the streets was; but Luke also told them that we deserved respect, the same respect that Luke had for them. One of the guys told Luke that he was not like most of the guys in the streets who carried guns and knives and that he was known around the area. The guy said that the last thing he wanted was to call attention to himself. He wanted to remain low key while working in the streets. As a peace offering, Luke brought them beer. He assured that everything would fine and that I shouldn't worry about it anymore.

I do love my boyfriend very much. I have a lot of respect for him and admire how he showed me that he didn’t want anything bad said about or done to me. Sometimes it’s just wise to just walk away like there’s paparazzi following you or if you cant help it just talk to those transphobic people calmly and just tell them nicely that its not really nice what they are doing.But I think it’s better to just walk away from the situation and just deal with the fact that some people can be just mean and disrespectful. Maybe we should carry a pepper spray just in case. Or maybe we can have a Support Group Meeting (SGM) dedicated to self defense. :-)

Lesson learned. I do suggest that we should start documenting these things. Maybe it would be useful in the future.

With much love,
Luke and Rebecca
(names changed upon request)

1 comment:

Valerie... said...

its stupid how filipino men from our country act this way towards us...its very stupid how they use us to draw attention for themselves....sometimes i cry when i think about these things at times i actually become scared of even just walking down the streets coz of these hate...they myt not be physical but the words they threw on me hurts me emotionally...whenever i go and join beauty pageants i use this time to voice out what i feel and what i wanna tell to each and every people watching...but it seems like that we have a long way to go for that....my parents didnt raise me to be theyre clown...yet nop matter how i make myself beautifull and passable filipino mens or filipino people's crab mentality is haunting me....it will take time to stop but we should not stop acting towards it...