by Mykel Andrada
What needs to be addressed in this issue is the subject-position of the persons and ideologies involved. It is clear that the teacher, in a classroom set-up, occupies the position of power, while students struggle it out to empower themselves. Religion becomes an issue in an institution that supposedly believes in academic freedom if the teacher uses her ideology (religion) to marginalize her students. It can thus be asked, “Does the teacher use her religion to mark or grade her students?” If the teacher uses religion as a parameter to grade students, there is an obvious opening for ideological bias, either to denigrate or uplift her students’ academic standing.
Is such the case with Hender?
In Hender’s case, she was actually told by her teacher that she can’t acknowledge Hender as a “she” because of legal-biological reasons and because of her religious standpoint. Here lies the problem. Puwedeng sabihin na “Wala pa naman tayong batas tungkol diyan!” O kaya ay puwedeng tanungin, “Pero di ba dapat irespeto rin ang relihiyon ng guro?” Kung ganun lang ang punto, e di maging anarkista na lang tayong lahat! Pero hindi iyon ang kaso. Kailangang tingnan na mayroong dominanteng batas at relihiyon, at mayroong dominanteng sistemang lumikha ng mga batas at relihiyon. Ang kontrapuntal (counterpoint) dito ng mga transgender ay gender-biased kasi ang batas at ang relihiyon. Ibig sabihin, ang batas at ang dominanteng relihiyon ay hetero-sexist at patriarchal. At ang batas at dominanteng relihiyon ay chauvinist.
It should be recognized that the rise of the notion of transgender is brought about by a long history of the struggles of social movements that advocate equality among sexes, genders and sexualities. It is an obvious action to eradicate homophobia, transphobia and other sexist hegemonic aggressions.
Hender is obviously in the subject-position of the marginalized gender and ideology. Though marginalized by society, transgenders do not simply succumb to the norms of a hetero-patriarchal society. “Bakit ba kasi nagpuputok ang butsi ni Hender kung ayaw siyang tawaging ‘she’ ng titser niya?” Labeling is not simply an issue of nomenclature. It is part of a move to confront sexist and chauvinist conventions and norms. It can be considered a step to progress transgender empowerment, though it is neither the zenith nor the end of the liberation movement.
Suffice it to say, the struggle to liberate all sexes, genders and sexualities does not end in claiming labels and sex and gender assignations. Di rin naman dapat sa names/labels natatapos ang laban ng LGBTQIs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexed). Pero dapat talagang ipatalos na kung sa labels pa lang ay nililikida ka na, paano pa kaya sa mas malalaking isyu na kumokompronta sa minamardyinalisang mga kasarian at sexualidad? Ngayon, higit kailan pa man, dapat kolektibong pinapataas ang antas ng kamulatan, lampas sa pagbibigay ng pangalan o kategorya. Ang pagpapamulat tungkol sa LGBTQIs ay hindi lamang para palayain ang LGBTQIs kundi palayain ang lahat ng tao, kasarian, at sexualidad mula sa mapang-aping mga transaksiyon ng lipunan.
That’s why we should support Hender’s fight and stand up for our rights!
Mykel Andrada. Iba, QC. March 13, 2011. Around 11pm.