MANILA — "I am grateful that I am now living in a world with strong allies that celebrate me as a woman."
These were the words of Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan when asked how she felt that she is now seen as one of the big women figures in the country.
The beauty queen said that a lot of her dreams came true when she finally embraced her womanhood in 2017.
"I became a beauty queen, I was seen on TV acting, I represented multinational and local brands. People listened to me as a content creator, host, and LGBTQIA+ advocate. The men I dated saw me as worthy to be admired and loved," Habijan told ABS-CBN News in an interview.
"Living my life as a trans woman, gave me the certainty, confidence, and power I needed to just simply become Mela," she added.
Habijan expressed her appreciation to people who recognizes her on how she identifies noting that embracing her womanhood empowered her as a trans woman.
"And it’s in the simple, heartwarming encounters that brings fullness and meaning to my womanhood: when my Papa calls me 'Miss Mela' at home, when my Mama acknowledges me as 'her daughter,' when my siblings address me as 'Sis Mela,' when people use my pronouns 'she and her,' when I’m addressed as 'Miss, Ma’am, Madam,' when I hear people call me Mela," Habijan said.
"As a trans woman, my womanhood freed me, toughened me, grounded me, humbled me, and empowered me. As my womanhood is making my heart full and at peace, it’s a gift worth treasuring. So may we always find meaning to our being women, for a world without women is a world without reason and emotions," she added.
She believes that the struggles of women and LGBT are connected and they will fight together for their rights.
"As a trans woman, a part of my purpose is to stand for equality and inclusion. So in my own capacity, I amplify victories of women and LGBTQA+ people, I point out out the dangers and challenges we face against misogynists and transphobes, and I highlight how we, as a nation, can collaborate in building a discrimination-free Philippines," the advocate said.
"Celebrating Women’s Month serves as a constant reminder of the dignity, essence, and value of a woman and her womanhood. The best way to celebrate the women in our lives is by treating them right and giving them the respect they deserve. By being grateful to our moms for carrying us for 9 months and nurturing us with care. By reminding our sisters, aunts, and friends of their power and how their strength have helped us carry on. By amplifying the achievements of women thriving in their respective fields," she added.
The beauty queen hopes that more women will be seen as figures and leaders of our country.
"May we harness leadership spaces for women who want to thrive in their respective careers. May we unlearn the traditional standard of how a woman should look and behave; and start regarding unique individualities of women as beautiful. May we respect a woman’s decision on how she wants to live her life -- if she wants to get married or not, if she wants to get pregnant or not, if she wants to love a fellow woman, if she wants to be respected and be addressed as a woman," Habijan said.
"We’ve always been told to trust a woman’s instinct. And I agree to it because women are individuals with a strong sense of intuition and sensitivity. Thus, women are great nurturers, empaths, and critical thinkers who can make loving homes, safe spaces, genuine relationships, trustworthy government/institutions, and meaningful lives," she added.
"The essence of being a woman is to teach this patriarchal world that it’s not a man’s world; that it’s a world where men, women, and people of diverse gender co-exist peacefully. Women’s existence have put a valuable meaning to diversity, complementary, and collaboration. And through women’s capability to nurture, to be empathic, and to be critical thinkers, a loving, safe, and sensitive world is fostered."
Amazing Women, International Women's Day, International Women's Month, Mela Habijan, pageant, LGBT