Wednesday, August 26, 2009


this was my original letter in reaction to the sacrilege that is rowena joy:

To the producers, writers and production staff of the upcoming show
'Rowena Joy',


We are The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines, and we are writing you this letter to discuss with you our reaction to the information provided on your website regarding this series, as well as our feedback to the first episode, since it portrays a Filipino transsexual woman.

First, please allow us to provide you some definition of terms, definitions which we did not invent, but are actually wholly accepted worldwide by all organizations and what we and you should also adhere to:

You graciously used the word 'transgender' to describe the eponymous character to be played by Iza Calzado. However, it seems the use of the word did not fit your usage.

In its broadest sense, transgender can mean anybody regardless of sexual orientation, whose appearance, personal characteristics and behaviors do not fit conventional definitions of “man” and “woman.” This can include anyone from feminine acting men or masculine looking women to people who use hormones and/or surgery to realign their bodies with their gender identity.

Using this definition, the eponymous character is a transgender woman; therefore, feminine pronouns should be used to refer to HER. She is not a gay man.

Regarding sexual orientation, it is again erroneous to use this as a basis for Rowena Joy's identity. If one will Google sexual orientation, in a nutshell, it is one's preferences as to choosing and being attracted to a potential mate, it is a pattern of emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to any gender. It is not, however, the basis for one's gender expression and gender identity. By gender expression, we mean that which comprises the set of external characteristics and behaviors one projects in portraying one’s gender identity which includes dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, physical characteristics, and other acts. By gender identity, it is a person's sense of being male, female or neither, which may or may not correspond to that person's body or assigned sex at birth.

We would like to stress that being transgender is not a sexual orientation nor is it a product of it; in contrast, it is your gender that defines your sexual orientation. For example, using your titular character, if she is indeed a transgender and identifies as a woman, her sexual orientation will be classified as heterosexual, she is a woman, and since the norm is that if a woman is attracted to a man, she is hetero. She will only be homosexual if she is attracted to women. However, after the first episode, it seems our hopes to have the transsexual Filipina portrayed in a different light were shot down. Iza Calzado did a superb job, she was believable at being her character: a gay man who became a woman through science, just like how you described it. She was not effective as a transsexual or transgender. We feel, the whole story was shown from a gay man’s perspective and not a transsexual one.

We understand that there is limited information regarding these definitions as to why the description of the character came to be. We offer this to be an opportunity for everyone to be enlightened, for this is one of our goals as an organization. We are striving to incorporate in the Filipino mind that being transgender doesn't have to mean you are gay or homosexual, or in colloquial terms, bakla. We want to be identified and acknowledged by our gender identity, not our assigned sex at birth, and not most importantly by what the general public denotes as to, i.e. 'sexual orientation'.

We also understand that it was a good choice to cast a talented actress such as Iza Calzado to portray a transsexual woman since most male actors fail horribly in portraying such characters, and that there is absolutely no alternative. We are just saddened that transsexuals are portrayed in a flamboyant and ridiculous manner. We daresay it is not a transsexual woman being portrayed but the amalgam of what people think a transsexual is: a gay man wanting to be or becoming a woman without even knowing or feeling as one.

We would also like to remind you, being from a very influential and powerful network, to be cautious of the use of words because these words can create confusion or certainty. We can work hand in hand to better enlighten and educate our people, to instill respect and dignity, without regard to gender or lifestyle.

We certainly hope that this letter would have done its purpose: to inform you of what we stand for and that we will be watching the series with fervor, if finally, the oppressed Filipina transsexual will be portrayed as we are.

For future opportunities and questions, we offer our services as consultants regarding the transgender experience, being the first and only advocacy, information and support group in the Philippines for transsexuals.

To you we remain,

Gia Alessandra Valeriano Nolasco

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines
(contact info)

*~i hope we can finally send our reaction to gma so our voice can be heard. so our experience can be reclaimed.

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