Yesterday, a transwoman named Gretchen Diez was detained just for using a women’s comfort room at Quezon City mall. According to Inquirer.net, she was stopped by a janitress when she was entering, and then later called a security guard to apprehend her.
Gretchen recorded the ordeal on Facebook Live, which showed her being berated by the janitress and members of the mall’s administrative office. In one part of the video, the janitress referred to Gretchen as “sir” and also tried to smack her phone from her hand just because she was taking a video.
This is why everyone should have a proper education about SOGIE.
Gretchen, a transgender woman, was approached to use the Male comfort room. She was physically, emotionally, and verbally abused by the staff of Farmer’s Plaza. pic.twitter.com/CEMQA7aGZY
She later posted updates on her Facebook account saying she was being taken to a police station in Camp Karingal. “Poposasan daw ako pagdating sa presinto,” (They will handcuff me once we reach the precinct) she said.
THIS IS THE FACE OF DISCRIMINATION. PINOSASAN ANG ISANG TRANSWOMAN DAHIL LANG SA PAG-BANYO SA PAMBABAE. NANGYAYARI LAHAT NG ITO SA HARAP NG MGA MATA NATIN AT HINDI TAYO PWEDENG MANAHIMIK. HINDI TAYO TATAHIMIK. @AranetaCenter PANAGUTAN NIYO ITO! #TranswomenAreWomenpic.twitter.com/7I6KIJnXaw
Lt. Col. Giovanni Caliao, Cubao police station chief, told Inquirer.net that the janitress planned to file charges of unjust vexation against Gretchen. But in the evening, GMA News reported that the charges were dropped.
In an interview, Gretchen told reporters the mall staff has apologized to her, but they also refused to make a public statement to address what happened. She added that they will still file a case against the mall for violating Quezon City’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
WATCH: Gretchen Custodio Diez says lady guards have apologized to her and she has accepted it. But they will still be holding the management of Farmer’s Plaza accountable for the harassment incident @ABSCBNNews@ANCALERTSpic.twitter.com/pQgKpaH4qb
In 2014, the Quezon City Council passed the “Gender-Fair City” Ordinance, which prohibits any form of discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE). One of its provisions include making gender-neutral restrooms available in the city and that establishments should not impose dress codes as it might affect an LGBTQ+ person’s self-expression.
Any person who violates this ordinance will face jail time for two months to a year, and will also have to pay a fine of P1,000 to P5,000.
Outpouring of support
Several members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies rallied behind Gretchen throughout the ordeal. Sen. Risa Hontiveros condemned the incident in a series of tweets and called for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Law so this never happens again.
Sa mga nagsasabing hindi na natin kailangan ng SOGIE Equality Law kasi tanggap na naman ang LGBT sa Pinas: A trans woman has just been humiliated in a mall restroom in Cubao. Pinosasan at dinala sa Karingal! LGBT persons face harassment & discrimination every day. This must stop! https://t.co/B44TN9hKC2
We at Preen.ph stand with Gretchen and every transgender individual—no one should be discriminated based on their identity and how they present themselves. We hope Gretchen gets the justice she deserves, and that the government finally gives the SOGIE Eqality Bill a chance because these types of incidents should never be normalized.