Man who used to identify as transgender doubts SOGIE promotes equality

Angelo Andrade, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2019 10:28 PM

Gavino Santiago Jr., who used to identify as a transgender woman, says the gender identify bill does not guarantee protection against discrimination. Handout

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A pioneer in the transgender movement in the country who later reverted to his birth gender is reluctant to support the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) bill, calling it "unnecessary."

Gavino Santiago Jr., founder of LGBT in Christ Philippines Inc., on Thursday said he believes the bill does not guarantee protection against discrimination in general.

"Ang SOGIE bill ay hindi naman necessarily nagbibigay ng protection on all angles, basically it protects LGBT alone so nasasagasaan 'yung iba," Santiago said. "It's not equal talaga."

(The SOGIE bill does not necessarily give protection on all angles, because it protects the LGBT sector alone, not others. It's not really for equality.)

Santiago underwent sexual reassignment when she was 24 in 1986, a time when such a decision was uncommon among Filipinos.

He later married a British man, but eventually chose to live as a man again. He became a pastor in 2014.

As a person who used to identify as a transgender, Santiago said he too had felt humiliation while using the female restroom. He went back to using male restrooms but, because of his sex-change surgery, he couldn't use the urinal.

He suggested giving identification cards for transgenders so they would be allowed to use restrooms reserved for persons with disabilities (PWD).

"I think we should be more kind to people like us, so I suggest nga na magkaroon ng ID ang katulad ko na hindi naman talaga puwede gumamit ng urinal. Just an ID na puwede gumamit ng PWD, that's it," said Gavino.

(I think we should be more kind to people like us so I suggest that people like me who can't use urinals should be given IDs. Just an ID that would allow us to use PWD restrooms, that's it.)

"Walang dapat gawin pa for CR purposes lang."

(There should be no more actions for CR purposes.)

The bill, which seeks to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination, was first proposed in 2017 and has been a hot topic after a transgender woman was briefly detained for trying to use a women's restroom in a mall in Quezon City.

Despite opposition to the SOGIE bill, Santiago said he would support a bill against all forms of discrimination in the country.

Malacañang said Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte would support an anti-discrimination bill, not the SOGIE proposal as the chief executive himself had said.