He or she? Either, Vice Ganda says, in viral explanation of gender identity

Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2021 08:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2021 09:29 PM

Comedy superstar Vice Ganda, a fierce advocate of queer rights and representation, recently identified themselves as non-binary on his noontime program ‘It’s Showtime.’ Instagram: @praybeytbenjamin

MANILA — Vice Ganda does not mind being addressed with either the masculine or feminine pronoun, identifying as non-binary, the comedy superstar said in a now-viral explanation of his gender identity.

The “It’s Showtime” host spoke on the topic in the May 14 episode of the noontime program, during its Tawag ng Tanghalan segment.

A clip of the conversation went viral on Friday, after it was uploaded to Twitter by user @graphicals, who expressed surprise that it was discussed so candidly on television.

Vice Ganda was asked by co-host Jugs Jugueta about pronouns, which the comedian took as an opportunity to educate viewers on gender identity.

“Ako, kahit ano. Pag tinawag mo akong ‘ma’am,’ hindi ako mao-offend. Pag tinawag mo akong ‘sir,’ hindi rin ako mao-offend. Hindi ko niri-recognize ang sarili ko… Either. Non-binary ang gender ko,” Vice Ganda said.

“Kahit sa mga articles, pag ini-interview ako, ‘Ano pong pronoun ang gusto niyong gamitin sa inyo — she po ba or he?’ Ako, personally, sasabihin ko, I don’t really mind. Kung ano pong gusto niyo. Hindi ako mao-offend kung gamitan niyo ako ng ‘he’ or ‘she,’” he said.

Vice Ganda emphasized that those who have similar gender expressions, may not necessarily identify as non-binary.

“Pero, ako iyon. May mga tao na definite sila kung ano’ng pronoun ang gustong gamitin sa kanila. Kaya it’s better that you ask, kasi not everyone is identifying themselves as part of the binary gender,” the comedian said, referring to man or woman.

Vice Ganda, who has fiercely advocated for queer rights and representation throughout his 12-year career, has long been candid about his own sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

In an April 2018 conversation that similarly unfolded on live television on “It’s Showtime,” Vice Ganda identified as a gay man — and not a transgender woman. 

“I’m a bakla!” Vice Ganda said at the time. “Hindi ko naman dama na babae ako, e.”

In the same episode where the viral video originated from, Vice Ganda also urged viewers to respect transgender women by referring to them by the feminine pronoun.

“Simulan na natin matuto na ‘yung mga transgender women ay hindi tinatawag na ‘sir’ at saka ‘he.’ Hindi sila mga lalaki. Mga babae sila,” he said.

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Vice Ganda gave examples of public spaces, such as restaurants or toll gates, where transgender women with feminine gender expression are still addressed with masculine terms.

Addressing the viewers of “It’s Showtime,” Vice Ganda emphasized: “Ang transgender women, ang tamang pag-address sa kanila, ‘she,’ ‘her,’ or ‘ma’am.’”

“Kung hindi kayo sure, pakitanong po kung saan sila komportable na ina-address. ‘Paano niyo po gustong tawagin kayo?’ Ganoon ‘yung mas may respeto. If you don’t know how to do it, ask,” he added.

Vice Ganda also reminded his followers to not assume the gender of an individual.

Conceding that Filipino culture, in general, still has a long way to go in terms of understanding SOGIE and queer rights, the host stressed, “Hindi masamang magdagdag tayo ng kaalaman sa alam na natin.”

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