MANILA (UPDATE) — A resort in Samal Island, Davao del Norte is in hot water after it was accused of discriminating against a transgender woman.
It started when Facebook user Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga recounted the discrimination she allegedly experienced at Isla Reta Beach Resort.
Gonzaga, who identifies as a transgender woman, expressed her disappointment on how the staff and management allegedly treated and embarrassed her while asking if she could use the women's bathroom.
In her post, she said after swimming in the beach, she went to the women's bathroom but was ordered by a staffer to go to the men's bathroom instead.
"Before entering the female bathroom, I was barred and told to transfer. I did not engage in an argument anymore. I looked inside the men's shower room, but there are a lot of shirtless men. So it would be awkward for me and for them if I'd be there," she said.
Despite feeling the urgent need to pee, Gonzaga decided to wait until the women's bathroom was vacant.
She then saw her aunt and her friend who were also about to use the bathroom and tried to go in with them.
But a female attendant again told her that she was not allowed there.
Only transgender women who have undergone sex reassignment surgery are allowed, the attendant allegedly said.
"Is that how you approach us? Does it mean that if transgenders will use your female bathroom, they need to show their private parts as proof?" Gonzaga said in the now viral post.
The attendant did not respond anymore, and Gonzaga walked away without using the bathroom.
She escalated her complaint to the resort management but was allegedly treated with the same disrespect.
"It is really prohibited because you are gay... There were also several female guests who complained about it," the staff allegedly told Gonzaga.
The male staff apologized but Gonzaga said she did not feel the sincerity.
Following Gonzaga's viral post, the resort issued a statement on Facebook and said they "cannot accommodate" transgender people because they have no separate "facility" for them.
The resort later posted a longer statement saying the management was "not homophobic or transphobic," but was merely "protecting" its other guests.
"Women have been complaining to the management that they do not feel safe or are uncomfortable with transgender and even vulnerable using the shower room with them," it said
"The management has no facility yet to cater to the transgenders' demand for a separate shower room," it added.
Gonzaga, however, did not demand a separate facility and only asked to use the women's bathroom.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) said they will be conducting an investigation on the incident and reiterated its stand against discrimination.
"DOT promotes gender equality and mainstreaming, and does not tolerate gender discrimination in its systems, structures, policies, programs and processes. We enjoin the entire tourism industry to abide by our national laws on Gender and Development," the agency said.
— With reports from Jeff Canoy and Jauhn Villaruel, ABS-CBN News