A Senate hearing deliberating the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill was virtually transformed into a “classroom” and became a venue to explain to the public the people’s different gender identities and expressions.
The SOGIE Equality Bill took center stage recently when Gretchen Diez, a trans woman, was barred from using the women’s comfort room of a mall in Quezon City and was even hancuffed and arrested by police personnel.
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, gave an overview of the people’s different gender identities, sexual orientation, and expressions and how to respond to practical issues, such as the use of public spaces.
“Hindi lahat ng LGBT, automatic na baklang lalake at babae ang kanyang identity at expression. Malawak at mayaman ang gender identity at expression ng mga tao. Ito ang nais ipaunawa at protektahan ng SOGIE Equality Bill,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros presented some of the different gender identities and sexual orientation, such as:
1. Cisgender / straight – people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth
2. Gay man – identifies as male and experiences physical, romantic or emotional attraction to the same gender.
3. lesbian /gay woman-identifies as a woman and experiences physical, romantic or emotional attraction to the same gender.
4. Bisexual- a person who experiences attraction to both genders
5. Trans woman and man – a person whose sex assigned at birth does not match their gender identity
“SOGIE and public spaces”
Hontiveros also responded to questions like how the LGBT community will access public spaces, such as public toilets. “People can access public spaces based on their gender identities and expressions. For example, a trans woman dresses, acts, identifies and expresses herself as a woman, because she is actually a woman. She therefore will use the women’s restroom. Those who cannot identify with our current gendered spaces can use gender-neutral/sensitive comfort rooms,” she explained.
However, the Senator said that the strategic way to address the issue of gender and public spaces is to reimagine and redesign society’s concept of public spaces.
“With the SOGIE Equality Bill, we hope to transition from our current binary system of gender norms in which spaces are gendered. We must design our public spaces outside of the traditional gendered boxes and capably respond to the people’s different gender identities and expressions and eliminate the physical and social features of public
spaces that promote gender-based discrimination and inequality,” Hontiveros said.
“It is important for the public to educate ourselves of the different colors of human sexuality, identities and expressions. It is one of the best ways we can fully grasp the beauty of life’s rainbow,” Hontiveros concluded.
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