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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 20
Philippines elects first Trans Congresswoman
Section One
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Philippines elects first Trans Congresswoman

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Geraldine Roman became the Philippines' first Transgender elected official on May 9, when she won the right to succeed her mother, Herminia Roman, in Congress.

Geraldine transitioned in 1994 when she was 28, and moved to Spain where she earned two master's degrees and worked as a reporter for the Spanish News Agency.

During the campaign Roman recalled that her family always remained supportive of her, and her father advised her to 'remain confident' despite being bullied for her gender identity in school.

In 2012 she returned home to her native Bataan province to care for her aging parents, promising to continue their political legacy.

Roman said her life after transitioning has 'not been secret' to those who know her in Bataan.

'Gender only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret,' she told reporters. 'I'm so happy so why should I be ashamed?'

Roman represents the Liberal Party of current Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, and campaigned on a platform for LGBT rights.

'That somebody of my condition is going to enter Congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against,' Roman told the AFP news agency during her campaign.

Having won her seat in Congress, Roman became a social media hero in the Philippines.

Her election was a 'huge breakthrough,' one person Tweeted.

'Geraldine Roman is my new hero, the first transgender person to be elected in the Philippines,' a resident of Manila, the country's capital, added.

'Congrats to our first-ever transgender congresswoman, Geraldine Roman,' said another. 'Finally someone who can fight for LGBT rights in congress.'

'A great historic victory today: The first transgender in congress. Congratulations to the fabulous Geraldine Roman,' added a fourth.

In other Philippine election results, notoriously homophobic boxer and part-time politician Manny Pacquiao won a Senate seat.

Rodrigo Duterte, currently mayor of the southern city of Davao, won the presidency. A colorful figure, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, Duterte promised to fill Manila Bay with the bodies of 100,000 criminals he promised he would kill if elected.

In spite of his macho image Duterte promised to support LGBT rights.

'Let us respect each other,' he said in a TV interview. 'In Davao [where he was mayor], there's no gay being ridiculed.'

Asked by reporters if he could accept his son being Gay, Duterte said he would.

'It's more of the human dignity than anything else,' he replied. 'All human beings are created by God. So you respect real women or real men. And if this one is somewhat in the middle&then he is also a creation of God.'

Asked about his view on same-sex marriage, Duterte answered 'Everyone deserves to be happy.'

Duterte is a member of the left-wing populist Philippine Democratic Party-Laban. Like the Liberal Party, it had its origins in the opposition to long-time Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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