MANILA -- The management of Tarlac State University (TSU), in a last-minute decision on Tuesday, allowed its transgender students to wear dresses in their graduation ceremony, a move that one of them dubbed as a victory for the LGBT community.
The school management called the students on the eve of the graduation, saying they would be given diplomas if they wear dresses, but would not be allowed to join the graduation march, said AB Communication graduate Ivern Doroteo Arcache.
Despite this, the school did not prevent them from marching with the rest of the class even if they were wearing dresses.
Arcache, who was recently crowned as Queen of the Philippines 2019, initially wore a lady barong during the processional as a sign of respect to the school administration. She changed into a dress after getting her diploma.
"Hindi ko po ipapakita sa kanila ang ipinakita nilang kagaspangan sa amin nung kami ay kanilang sinasabihan ng kung ano anong masasakit na salita. Gusto ko pong ipakita sa kanila na may puso, respeto, at ka-respe-respeto kaming mga miyembro ng LGBTQ community," she said.
(We will not return the rough treatment and the harsh words that they gave us. We want to show them that we, the members of the LGBTQ community, has respect and deserve to be respected.)
"That (my dress) is a sign that I still stand for what I believe in and as a sign that they can never hide our true colors."
Arcache shared that their graduation rites went smoothly, without much fanfare or conflict.
"I opened my arms to the admin, I greeted Ma'am President and I shook the hands of the Board including our dean to show that I have no hard feelings and I still have my respect to them," she said.
Arcache said that this is a small victory for the transgender community in their university, especially now that the country is celebrating the Pride Month.
"Sana next year wala nang maging problema at wala na sa amin ang makaranas pa ng naranasan namin," Arcache added.
(I hope that other transgender students graduating next year will not face the same situation that we went through.)
Female students were required to wear ankle length dresses while male students should wear cream colored barong with black pants, according to an earlier memorandum from the university's Office of the President obtained by ABS-CBN News.
The OIC Director of TSU's Public Affairs unit Jazzel Manalo clarified to ABS-CBN News that there were no changes in the decision of the university officials, and that they have implemented their memorandum.
"Even if they defied the dress code, for as long as it does not cross the line of decency, they will still go onstage to receive their diploma," Manalo said in a statement.
Manalo added that Arcache followed the prescribed attire "since she wore a cream-colored lady barong, feminine-styled black slacks, and black shoes, hence she was allowed to join the processional."
The memorandum did not indicate a dress code for transgender students.