MANILA -- Two prominent personalities in the LGBTQIA community in the Philippines were asked to react to the recent statement of transgender beauty queen Kevin Balot on trans women in pageants.
In an online show hosted by Tim Yap on Thursday, photographer to the stars BJ Pascual and car enthusiast Angie King disagreed with Balot's initial remark that trans women are asking for "too much" in wanting to be part of "traditional" pageants like Miss Universe.
Pascual believes that there is no reason for trans women to be excluded in pageants that are supposedly for women.
"Number one, trans women are women... So 'yun pa lang. For me, bakit hindi sila puwedeng sumali?" he said..
"And ano ba 'yung ija-judge sa beauty pageants? Usually their looks, their advocacy, and their intelligence. Hindi naman jina-judge sa Miss Universe kung nagme-menstruate sila or nanganganak sila, di ba? So why not allow these women to join, di ba?" he added.
Pascual admitted that he found Balot's remark "very, very disappointing," especially since she has become the face of the transgender community in the country.
Early this month, both of them were featured in Netflix Philippines' Pride Month video, with Pascual and Balot representing gay and transgender people, respectively.
"Parang for me, 'yung sinabi niya goes against what the trans community is fighting for, what the whole LGBTQIA+ community is fighting for. And I think it stems a lot from internal transphobia," Pascual said.
He continued: "Iyong sinabi niya parang now is being weaponized by a lot of people na transphobic or those who don't claim to be transphobic. Sinasabi nila, 'Yes, I agree with Kevin.' Ang dami na, as in ang dami nang anti-trans sentiments sa Twitter, sa Facebook because a member of the trans community said it... That goes to show how one voice can damage the whole advocacy."
Balot has since apologized for her statement via a series of Twitter posts. Host and celebrity mom Divine Lee, one of Balot's close friends, has also publicly promised to "educate" the transgender beauty queen on the issue.
Hoping that Lee will be able to help Balot better understand the struggles of members of the LGBTQIA, Pascual went on to encourage more representation in the transgender community, citing King and a few more individuals.
"Feeling ko we should amplify more voices... just to better represent our trans sisters," he said, adding, "Ang daming trans women diyan who are well-spoken, who can represent the trans community better."
King, for her part, admitted that the issue on trans women joining "traditional" pageants can sometimes be a "tricky subject depending on who you talk to."
Nevertheless, she agreed with Pascual and said that "it should be an open field."
"Not to bash the pageant arena, but most of the people in pageants, 'di ba they get retoke? And parang pantay-pantay naman eh, because everyone does it. You get your teeth fixed.. If everyone's doing it, then it's sort of fair," she said, noting how some people tend to be wary of trans women joining pageants initially intended for natural-born women because they have undergone surgery.
"It's not saying that you have to come as 'original' as you are, so I think it should be open... Agree ako kay BJ," she added.
Watch the video below, starting at the 44:50 mark, for King and Pascual's take on the issue: