Ebeng Mayor’s rape and murder is a wake-up call to defend trans rights

If you still don't think that we need to pass the SOGIE Bill, wake up

Trigger warning: anti-trans violence, rape, murder

A member of the trans community has just lost their life in a cruel and senseless attack. Ebeng Mayor, a trans man from Batasan Hills, Quezon City, was found lifeless three days after going missing. According to Cebu-based trans rights org Transman Equality and Awareness Movement (TEAM), Mayor was “believed to have been raped before their mutilation and murder. A wooden stick was found shoved into their genitalia.” 

“This brutal act is a clear indication of a hate crime,” the org wrote in a correspondence with Preen. “A hate crime is a prejudiced-motivated crime. For example, when one murders LGBT people only because they hate LGBT people.” 

This just came a few days after the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia was observed last May 17. 

This attack underlines the urgency of passing the SOGIE Bill. People continue to be discriminated against and put in danger because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We need a bill that provides the LGBTQIA+ community with “equal access to social services such as public education, social welfare, employment, legal protection from harassment, bullying,” a.k.a. all the things that our straight and cis siblings already have. 

“We call for a full and thorough investigation of this atrocious crime and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice to the full extent of the law. And we call for the immediate passing of the SOGIE Equality Bill, a law that has been languishing in the Senate, its passing delayed by cheap tactics by Senators like Villanueva, Sotto and Pacquiao,” stated TEAM. 

“A hate crime law would make such motivations an aggravating circumstance, raising the culpability of an act leading to harsher penalties such as increased jail time,” the org explained. 

A culture of violence against LGBTQIA+ individuals 

This is not the first apparent hate crime committed this year. In January, RR Bondoc, Nicole Quilaneta and Erika Endrina, all part of the LGBTQIA+ community, were found lifeless near a remote area in Brgy. San Jose, Tagaytay. They were allegedly abducted around midnight of Dec. 19, with armed men forcing them into an SUV. 

Trans folk are especially vulnerable to hate crimes. While we don’t have a full record of crimes in the Philippines, the Human Rights Campaign recorded at least 44 U.S.-based murders of trans and gender-noncomforming people in 2020 alone. “We say at least because too often these stories go unreported—or misreported,” HRC stressed. With the spread of hate and anti-trans rhetoric, violence against trans people is rising, wrote The New York Times.

Just last September, Jennifer Laude’s murderer Joseph Scott Pemberton walked free, with the president granting him absolute pardon for his heinous crime.

“The trans masculine community is vulnerable to sexual violence in the Philippines, a country that condones rape culture and victim blaming and a president with a penchant for making rape jokes and derogatory remarks,” TEAM remarked. It noted that in one survey it conducted among LGBTQIA+ college-level students, 28% said they were victims of sexual harassment. 

Meanwhile, LGBTQIA+ rights org Bahaghari called out the Duterte administration for perpetuating a culture of violence against the community. This includes letting the SOGIE Bill “languish for 21 years in Congress,” Pemberton’s pardon, and the militarized response to the pandemic, which has enabled abuse against the LGBTQIA+ community and led to the arrests of 20 activists at the Pride rally last year.

“To Duterte, we are nothing more than pawns in his goal of consolidating wealth and power. We anticipate his silence in the wake of Ebeng’s murder, and the continued denial of justice for our community under his regime,” Bahaghari stated.

Our trans siblings deserve to be able to live without fearing for their lives. We cannot passively accept violence to continue to happen. It’s up to us to fight for each other. 

Among the trans rights advocates decrying Mayor’s death is actress Mela Habijan, who was crowned Miss Trans Global last September. “It is heartbreaking and devastating to be hearing yet another hate crime. Every LGBTQIA+ life that is lost due to inhumane motivations is an indicator how our lives are treated with no value,” she said to Preen. “I am one with the LGBTQIA+ community in amplifying the call to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill because LGBTQIA+ lives and rights matter!”

 

Art by Pammy Orlina

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