There is a running irony that exists in the Philippines today. Transgender beauty pageants are held in almost every other city and town, and yet the transgender community still struggles to be recognized under national law. This is the jump-off point of the short documentary made by of Kassidy Brown and Allison Rapson, founders of media company We Are The XX, in cooperation with women’s lifestyle website Refinery 29.
The pair heads over to our shores to talk to a few members of the transgender community who are actively seeking for equal legal rights and representation. This includes Maki Gingoyon, activist and founder of website mytranssexualdate.com, Kate Montecarlo, chair of the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines, and Geena Rocero, notable fashion model and founder of Gender Proud.
In the documentary, they talk about how beauty pageants help transgenders express and present their true self, while also mentioning the many limitations they still have to live with. For instance, people like Maki are kept from using the women’s bathroom at their local fitness club. It took Geena almost 12 years of modeling internationally before she could come out as a transgender in a TED talk that’s garnered over two million views.
The video entitled “These Beauty Queens Are Fighting for Transgender Rights in the Philippines” is also accompanied by a lengthy write-up that further delves into the issues of the local transgender community, from difficulties in finding work to extreme cases such as the murder of Jennifer Laude.
View the moving documentary and the read the feature here.
Photo courtesy of Glamour