Post submitted by Jean Freedberg, Deputy Director of Partnerships, HRC Global
In an unprecedented gathering this weekend, more than 160 transgender activists and allies came together in Cebu, the Philippines’ second largest metropolitan area, for two days of inspiration, connecting, and skills building.
HRC Global is proud to be part of a three-city speaking tour alongside Gender Proud and the Association of Transgender People of the Philippines (ATP) in the Philippines with transgender model and activist Geena Rocero.
The tour was launched as part of Geena's dream to return to her native country to inform the public about, and destigmatize the lives of, transgender people in the Philippines. In addition, as part of the tour, she hopes to build awareness for the non-discrimination bill that is currently being considered by the Congress of the Philippines.
“The time is now for a more empowered conversation,” said Rocero.
Following each speaking engagement, local transgender activists were offered a day of media and storytelling trainings. According to organizers in Cebu, the weekend's events were the first time that the transgender community has specifically gathered to learn how to tell their own story, and to gain skills that will help them get those stories out to the media, policy makers, and the public.
On the first day of the tour, activists gathered in a large community center in a city mall to hear from Geena, national Filipino LGBT leaders, and local allies, including a city councilwoman who is a main sponsor of a proposed local non-discrimination ordinance.
There was much excitement and networking between different segments of the transgender community, which carried over to an IDAHOT rally and photoshoot.
On the second day, 20 pre-selected local activists who had applied for the training attended in-depth storytelling and media sessions. Participants, including transgender men, transgedner women, as well as those who identify in other ways, actively engaged in interactive sessions led by a range of media figures and trainers. For many of the participants, this was an emotional moment as they worked to find the best way to convey their truth.
One such moment featured a 18-year old transgender women, who spoke of her struggle as a young student to find the resources to finance her transition, and how she overcome all the odds, to find herself, and to find her voice.
The community speaking tour continues over the next two weekends in Quezon City (Manila) and Vigan City.