NEW YORK CITY—Filipino-American model and transgender-rights advocate Geena Rocero talked about the state of LGBTQI Plus Rights in the Philippines at the dialogue on “Gender Diversity Beyond Binaries” at the United Nations.
It was the first meeting of its kind at the UN where member-states, UN entities and activists shared their thoughts and experiences on the current state of LGBTQI Plus Rights globally.
“Being trans in the Philippines is culturally visible but not politically recognized. There are still no rights for trans people to exist as we are. We can’t change name our and gender marker, there are no legal protections for discrimination,” Rocero said.
Rocero said it was tough to hide who she really was for 7 years just so she could live her dream as a fashion model.
“For so many years, I felt like I was living this double life, right? Yes, I was a successful fashion model but then there’s this other reality that I felt like I was keeping even my model agent didn’t know I was trans. I remember the bigger the job, the bigger the paranoia,” she said.
Aside from Rocero, Fil-Am poet Kay Barrett was also among the panel during the dialogue.
Barrett talked about everyday life for trans people, such as being able to use the bathroom of their choice.
“See there’s this story that every trans non binary person knows, it’s beyond guttural and it’s more than the bladder, it goes something like this, I am real, I’m real, I’m real,” Barrett said.
For Rocero and other trans activists, the UN as an international institution could do more to help LGBTQI Plus Rights.
“We definitely would love to see more trans and non-conforming people in positions of power here at the UN. Propose policies that mandates access to health for trans and gender diverse people,” she said.
Rocero said there is one thing that still can be done for trans rights to move forward.
“Trans people and gender diverse people have always been here since the beginning of time. Decolonizing that understanding would make us realize that that is the way forward,” she added.
Organizers said they covered a lot of ground in these breakthrough talks at the UN.
But many also agree that there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to gay rights, especially on how these rights are translated to everyday life for members of the LGBTQI Plus community.
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