MANILA — Transgender pageant queen Kevin Balot on Wednesday apologized for the "confusion" surrounding her statement against fellow transgender women joining "traditional" pageants, saying she was mistaken when she claimed her community was asking for "too much" in that regard.
Balot, a model and known advocate of trans rights in the country, rose to fame in 2012 when won Miss International Queen, said to be the foremost global pageant for transwomen.
"We transwomen always ask for equality... And I believe us transgender women joining sa mga Miss Universe is not equality anymore, e," she said on Tuesday during the pageant-themed "Queentuhan" live stream.
"Hindi lang ako sang-ayon sa mga ganoong bagay kasi we have our own pageant. We have the Miss International Queen pageant which is the most prestigious transgender beauty pageant... Hindi na siya equality eh, parang asking too much na."
Balot's comments quickly made the rounds online, drawing widespread criticism from the queer community. Several pointed out that her statement only serves to validate transphobia, as it came specifically from a high-profile transwoman who ironically has a track record of being a spokesperson of trans rights.
Others compared Balot's statement with those of other pageant queents, notably the supportive stance of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, whose batch saw the first-ever transwoman candidate, Spain's Angela Ponce, in the pageant's 68-year history.
A number came to the defense of Balot, such as former "Pinoy Big Brother" housemate Dawn Chang, saying the controversial remark was simply a case of "sharing her perspective" which "must be respected."
Balot, however, sought to change that "perspective" a day later, as she tweeted in succession an apology to the transgender community, and clarified her stand on transwomen in pageants.
She wrote, unedited: "Hello everyone! gusto ko lang po i-clear yung confusion. Hindi naman po sa naniniwala ako na hindi dapat sumali ang transgender women sa traditional pageants.
"What I meant was bilang isang representative ng Miss International Queen, gusto ko lang na ma recognize ang pageant na ito as the most prestigious pageant for transwomen.
"I know na mali ako for saying na 'too much' na or 'hindi na equality' yun pero just know na hinding hindi po ayun ang paniniwala ko. I just used the wrong terms dahil hindi po ako ganun kagaling at expressing myself in english.
"Thank you for all your comments and bubulay bulayin ko po lahat yun para ma improve ang way of thinking ko. Please know na kaisa nyo ako sa pakikipaglaban para sa pagkakapantay pantay ng lahat. I'm really sorry for the confusion."
In a separate update on Instagram Stories, Balot also shared a photo of her crowning moment in Miss International Queen, with an animation that depicts a heartbreak.
Organizers of Queentuhan, meanwhile, said Wednesday it "aims to be a safe space for open and respectful dialogue where we can all learn from each other."
The group thanked Balot for sharing her insights, saying her story is a "pivot point for us to equip ourselves with enough knowledge to be effective allies in this fight for equality."