Diary of a Transgender Filipina

Mae & Rio: Two stories of discrimination Part I

Posted by pinaytg on July 29, 2008

           To most of us, this weekend would have been spent having fun, taking a rest and relaxing. Not to Mae and Rio, two women of transgender experience, who had to spend this weekend worrying about the coming week. Mae, who is just a week in training for a call center job, is afraid she might lose her recently acquired employment while Rio, who is on her third year in Nursing school, is agonizing about not being able to graduate despite doing well in school and  just having a year to go. Both women are nervous about what the new week will bring. Both women are being punished for their transgender status.




            When Mae attended her pre-employment orientation, she was informed that she could dress female as long as she followed the company’s dress code. So that’s exactly what she did. From Monday to Thursday last week, she dressed in business casual. On Friday, she wore a blouse over black pants and snickers. Needing to use the bathroom upon arrival at work Friday afternoon, she rushed to the women’s bathroom as was her wont.


            Five minutes later while powdering her face in front of the bathroom mirror, Mae heard the voice of a security guard ordering her to get out. The guard stood by the bathroom door barking reasons at Mae why she did not belong to the women’s bathroom. Shocked, Mae tried to explain to the guard that she was female. The guard was belligerent, however, and threatened her if she did not step out.


            Humiliated and scandalized by the growing number of onlookers, Mae thought she had no choice. She left the bathroom in tears. Later, Mae’s trainer told her that the company had an unspoken rule that bakla employees were not allowed to use the women’s bathroom. Mae said that she understood that if by bakla the trainer meant men who identified as male and presented as such and were attracted to other males. Mae tried to explain that she did not identify as one and that her gender identity was female as evinced by how she presented in public. Moreover, Mae pointed out the company’s core values which included belief in diversity. Mae thought this explained the company’s allowance for employees to wear the clothing of the gender they identify as. If the company lets her dress as female because that’s how she sees herself and is seen by others, then why can’t she use the corresponding bathroom?


            The trainer could not give Mae clear answers but promised Mae that she would do something about it. Mae decided to raise her concerns with the Human Resources (HR) department. Today, July 29, 2008, Tuesday, Mae is set to meet with HR. Mae is apprehensive about this impending meeting. This weekend it’s all that she could think about.           





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