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Friend says Laude comfortable being transgender

Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude. ALLAN MACATUNO / INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. ALLAN MACATUNO / INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—Despite her sexual orientation and gender preference, Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, 26, lived a life no different from other people, according to close friend and housemate Alexis, who is also a transgender woman.

Alexis, who shared an apartment on Drapper Street in Tapinac village here with Laude for more than a year, said on Thursday that she and Laude belonged to a small circle of friends, about 10 of them, who were  all transgender women.

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Except for being teased and becoming the objects of demeaning comments from some people when they were out in the streets, Alexis said she could not recall any instance when she, Laude or their friends had been seriously discriminated against.

“I think discrimination against us will always be there but we don’t take it seriously,” Alexis said.

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She said Laude, who was killed allegedly by an American soldier in a motel here on Saturday night, was too comfortable with being a transgender woman to harbor hatred of people who did not like her.

Irish, 30, another transgender woman, said she, too, had never felt discriminated against.

“Here in Olongapo, I can see that people are receptive to transgender [women] like us. I don’t  think it’s an issue at all,” said Irish, who works in a beauty salon.

She said she was saddened by the death of Laude and wanted the government to help her family get justice for her.

Like her friends Alexis and Laude, Irish lives like ordinary people in this city.

In Baguio City, Myke Sotero, a pastor at Metropolitan Community Church-Metro Baguio (MCC), a Christian church that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, said that transgender women live as real women, despite their being physiologically male.

“Their everyday life is the life of ordinary women. They wake up in the morning, take a bath, fix their hair and put on makeup. But they face a stressful life every day because they have to face the reality of discrimination and bullying in the workplace or even in schools,” he said.

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Sotero, who preferred to be called gay, said transgender women were prone to hate crimes because they were comfortable going out in public in women’s clothes, unlike gay men who were discreet.

He said many of the transgender women he knew worked in beauty parlors, spas, call centers and in the entertainment industry.

“Some transgenders are sex workers while there are those who make a career as ‘beauconeras’ (those who join beauty contests),” he said.

While there are transgender women who suffer violence and are loathed by their relatives, others are accepted as ordinary family members, Sotero said.

“There is a degree of tolerance for gay [men] or transgender [women] who usually work or are professionals and are the breadwinners of their families,” he said. “Sometimes, this society has a double standard … If you are earning for your family, you are accepted and loved; but if you earn nothing, you are rejected.”

He said the MCC-Metro Baguio had wed 115 couples from the LGBT community. He said the church sponsors dialogues and briefings for the LGBT community to deepen the public’s understanding of homosexuality and LGBT rights.

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TAGS: Crime, Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, Jennifer Laude, killing, transgender
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