Monday, December 24, 2007

STRAP To Philippine Supreme Court: We Understand

TransGriot Note: This is the official statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) in regards to a recent adverse Philippine Supreme Court decision in regards to name and document changes. It also drives home the point I make (and will continue to make) that transgender rights and recognition of our human right to live our lives are a worldwide struggle.

Official statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines regarding the decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

Filipina transsexual group to Supreme Court: We understand

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) understands why the Supreme Court of the Philippines denied the petition for a change of first name and sex of Ms. Mely Silverio, a landmark decision penned by Associate Justice Renato Corona, promulgated on the 22nd of October 2007.

In one way or another, we are all ignorant. Since omniscience is not a human quality, the decisions and choices that we make in life, no matter how we claim to be rational and intelligent, are always limited by the information that we have, the quality of the information, and by our capacity to process and interpret them. Moreover, our biases, prejudices, and emotional commitment to our long-cherished beliefs affect the manner we reach our conclusion. This is unavoidable for basking in the bliss of perpetual ignorance is very comfortable. Just like any decision, this one, without doubt, suffers from it. We understand for STRAP is also ignorant.

STRAP is ignorant of how the justice system in the Philippines really works or whether it is working at all.

STRAP is ignorant of whether or not the freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution includes gender expression.

STRAP is ignorant of the wisdom behind this decision that leaves us with the unnecessary suffering and inconvenience brought by the “M” on our birth certificates until Philippine Congress finally decide that we deserve to live a dignified, joyful, and self-fulfilling existence, just like every human being.

STRAP is ignorant of why our Supreme Court cannot be like the Supreme Court of South Korea, which decided in 2006 to allow transsexual people to change their sex on their birth certificates. Justice Kim, commenting on their decision, said that their decision “is the best choice to alleviate the suffering of transsexual people at a time when any tangible legislative measures to protect their rights is most likely a long time coming.”

But we are not comfortable in our ignorance for we know that there are a lot of countries whose legal systems allow our legal identity to reflect, even without sex reassignment surgery, the gender we actually live rather than the gender declared by the doctors upon our birth. Of course, these countries have access to the latest information regarding the reality behind the category of sex. Information that, undoubtedly, the Supreme Court of the Philippines failed to take into consideration. Perhaps the Supreme Court simply has no access to them. We understand.

However, access to information does not always guarantee wisdom. Without compassion, understanding, and the humility to accept that you are ignorant, wisdom is impossible. Perhaps our country’s institutions have not yet reached the same stage and level of compassion and understanding that other countries have towards people like us. We understand.

We are among the daughters and citizens of this country. We are humbly reclaiming the right to define our gender identity. Our male name is not the name that we use every day. The male on our birth certificates is not the life we live every day. The legal identity that we carry is a lie because that is not who we really are. We want the gender that we actually live, present and declare every day be the one reflected on our birth certificates and not what the doctors declared upon our birth.

We are not asking for the stars, just our real life to be reflected on our legal papers. When will we be understood? We hope that Philippine Congress is listening, compassionately.

In loving kindness,
The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines

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